Bryan Keane has an unusually playful way of describing being hit by a car, for a man whose Olympic dream was quite literally smashed to bits by a shattered kneecap.
“A kiss with a car” is how he recalls a close encounter with a vehicle while preparing for Rio.
It is a revealing example of the attitude that helped Keane recover from that injury, picked up after he was hit by a vehicle while on his bike two years out from London, which had scuppered his hopes of making it to the 2012 Games.
After regaining his fitness, he refocused his efforts on making it to Rio and his good-natured demeanour does not mask the no-nonsense, practical perspective the Cork man adopts in relation to his sport.
Keane will today compete on the Copacabana Olympic Triathlon race site at 3pm Irish time. A 1.5km swim, 40km bike race and 10km run.
Surely weary of discussing his pre-London crash, he does speak about the risks and reality of his training in a fascinatingly frank manner.
“Some people don’t walk away from crashes and that’s reality of sport, it is dangerous,” says Keane, who will hope to celebrate his 36th birthday on Saturday in style.
“Obviously getting knocked down and smashing my kneecap and missing London was hugely upsetting and had I not made these Games, I’d be pretty gutted, because every athlete dreams of going to the Olympics and competing on the biggest stage, but there was nothing I could have done, it happened.
“There’s been plenty of times where I’ve had close calls or crashes that haven’t turned out as bad and could have been terrible,” added Keane, before going on to detail a recent close scrape.
The Cork man was based in Font Romeu in the French Pyrénées for altitude training and went out for a cycle.
“I had a little… kiss with a car,” he explains with a nervous laugh. “Eek… It was a very little, slow fall but I came off my bike and that happens, you’re going to crash. You can limit risk, but you can’t avoid it totally. It’s just how it goes.
“I’ve got a second chance, I’ve been able to come out the other side of a pretty shit injury and something that put me down to rock bottom and I’ve clawed my way back and I’m really happy to have been able to have done that.”
Keane carries an ever-so-slight advantage today having already competed on the Rio course in an Olympic Test event last year — although he was carrying an Achilles niggle at the time.
And having qualified following a slog of a schedule — finishing inside the world’s top 55 with a 20th-place finish at the final selection event in Yokohama last month — the Cork man is not concerned about facing any unfamiliar obstacles on the biggest stage.
“I’m racing the same guys that I’ve raced for the last five years,” he says. “There’s nothing different — we raced the same course last year in the test event so there’s nothing different in that either.
“There’s guys on that start list who are good friends of mine, I’ll speak to them and I used to train with those guys full-time. I don’t think it’s added pressure. For me personally I think it’s great that we get more attention and we get to highlight our sport.
“When you’re there on the start-line with an Ireland crest on you, you want to do well to represent Ireland and your friends and your family and that’s a big thing for me — to do our country proud.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved