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Monday 5 December 2016

'Inspiration' Heffernan finally gets hold of Olympic medal

Published 04/11/2016 | 02:30

Rob Heffernan with wife Marian, children Meghan, Tara, Regan and Cathal and his medal. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Rob Heffernan with wife Marian, children Meghan, Tara, Regan and Cathal and his medal. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

A dream came true for World champion athlete Rob Heffernan last night when he finally got his hands on an Olympic medal.

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The 38-year-old from Togher admitted he was "over the moon" after belatedly receiving his bronze medal from the London 2012 Olympic Games in front of a packed audience at Cork's City Hall.

The medal was presented by Olympic Council of Ireland acting president, William O'Brien, and Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Des Cahill.

Mr Cahill hailed the athlete as "a model and inspiration to the youth of today".

The Irish 50km walk star was upgraded last March from fourth place to the bronze medal position after the London 2012 champion, Sergey Kirdyapkin from Russia, was stripped of his medal due to doping offences.

Mr Heffernan had insisted the medal presentation only take place after the 2016 Rio Olympic Games because he didn't want his preparations for the 50km walk interrupted or distracted.

Last night, he revealed he endured his own drug test nightmare when athletics officials insisted on testing him shortly after he underwent surgery on his hips. Rob had been diagnosed with hernias in both hips - and required surgery in London in December 2014 and again in April 2015.

The IAAF insisted on an anti-doping test despite the proximity to his surgical procedure.

Not surprisingly, an adverse result was delivered by a minute ingredient in a paracetamol treatment he was given.

Athletics officials later fully cleared him after realising the paracetamol ingredient was given for medical reasons.

Irish Independent

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