Rob aims to stroll out of the shadows with London medal
AS he goes into his fourth Olympic Games, Rob Heffernan is considered one of Ireland's best prospects for a medal.
Heffernan (34), the race walker from Togher in Cork, recently said his lifetime goal was to win an Olympic gold.
Since he gained two fourth places -- in the 20km and 50km at the last European Championship -- he has been one of our most fancied contenders.
He is competing in the same events at the London Games.
Rob and his wife Marian will be the first Irish husband and wife to compete at the same Olympics. She is part of the 4x400m relay team, and is said to have an outside chance of a medal.
The couple have a son, Cathal, and Rob also has a daughter, Meghan, from a previous relationship.
Earlier this year, Rob said he would sleep in a special tent in his home that mimics high-altitude conditions in the run-up to the Olympics. He hoped that it would give him an edge for London.
"I train twice a day and work as hard as any athlete could be expected to," Rob has said, "but I'm in a sport that the public only takes notice of once every four years when the Olympics comes around, and even then it's seen as this bizarre thing that looks funny.
"I wish my sport had a greater prominence because that would help with sponsorship, which is very hard to come by in a time of recession.''
As one of Ireland's 'Podium Athletes', he receives funding of €40,000 from the Irish Sports Council.
He said recently: "I'm very grateful for (it), but you certainly wouldn't be leading a lavish lifestyle on it."