WHAT A PHENOMENAL finish for Robert Heffernan. An excellent, measured and competitive performance brought Rob a fantastic fourth place finish in this morning’s 50k walk.
15th, 13th, 12th, 11th, 10th, 8th, 5th, 4th — that was the progression on the 5k standings for Rob. The most gruelling of events on the athletics spectrum, he bided his time as other ahead of him could not cope with the pressure and were disqualified or dropped out in distress. His race plan was executed to almost perfection.
This is Rob’s third time finishing in fourth place – in the 2010 Europeans he was fourth in both the 20k and 50k contests. It could be heart-breaking to be so close but I don’t think Rob will be too disappointed given the margin by which he broke the national tecord – nearly eight minutes!
Rob is an incredibly likeable and funny guy. It is a testament to his personality and his talent that his teammates nominated him as Irish team captain for London 2012. He wore that mantle very comfortably and impressively today.
Irish hopes this evening are now firmly pinned on Olive Loughnane who, like Rob, is competing in her fourth Olympics. There’s no doubt that Olive has the pedigree and the current form to finish at least top eight in the 20k walk. Her silver medal in the World Championships in Berlin capped a great championship for the Irish that year.
In 2012, Olive finished eighth in the very competitive World Race Walking Cup in May and second at a race in Italy ahead of a number of athletes placed better than her in the current rankings. The Irish walkers have spent plenty of camps and champs in each other’s pockets and she will no doubt be inspired by Rob’s performance to pull out something special.