Heffernan walks tall in London
Olympics:Ireland’s Rob Heffernan produced a stunning performance to finish fourth in the Men’s 50 kilometre walk in London today. The 34-year-old Corkman broke the Irish record by a whopping seven minutes and 36 seconds.
A relative novice at this distance – he finished ninth in the 20 kilometre race earlier in the Olympics – he made a decision after the Beijing Olympics to target the longer event at the London Games and came so close to winning a medal.
He finished one minute and 55 seconds behind the winner - Russia’s Sergey Kirdyapkin - but just 31 seconds adrift of China’s Tianfeng Si, who won the bronze medal. Australia’s Jared Tallent claimed the silver medal.
Heffernan paced himself brilliantly through the race to give himself every opportunity to claim a medal as he pushed on from 12th place after 30 kilometres, to eighth after 40 kilometres, fifth after 45 kilometres before eventually crossing the line in fourth place.
It eclipses the best ever performance by an Irish race walker in the Olympics, a mark held previously by Jimmy McDonald when the latter finished sixth in the 20 kilometre discipline at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
Heffernan admitted: “I gave it everything. The crowd were amazing and I just fed of their energy all the way round. I have never ever experienced anything like it.
“I’d have loved to deliver a medal for the people back home and for them today. I’d like to thank everyone for their support because it was worth five minutes to me I think. It’s unbelievable: 3:38 has won most Olympic Games.
“I was prepared. The last day helped me so I was prepared coming in here today. I knew the crowd would want me to go so I had to control my own race and I had to stick to my own plan. It’s just unfortunate that I missed out at the end. There was nothing I could do. I hope I gave people something to shout about.
Ireland's Brendan Boyce came home in 29th place, two and a half minutes inside his personal best, but compatriot Colin Griffin was disqualified after being red-paddled on three occasions.
In the women’s 20k race, Ireland’s Olive Loughnane came home in 13th position in a season’s best of 1:29.39. Laura Reynolds came home in 20th position in a personal best time of 1:31.02 in her first major event.
The race was won in world record time by 20-year-old Russian Elena Lashmanova, who made up 17 seconds on long-time leader and fellow Russian Olga Kanishkina over the final two kilometre lap to win in 1:25.02.
Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe finished in 26th position in the men’s modern pentathlon in what will prove an invaluable learning experience for the 20-year-old Dublin student, who only received a late call-up for London.