'Legend' Heffernan to pick up medal - but not for Rio Games
They roared themselves hoarse, but while Ireland's 50km walk star Rob Heffernan will receive an Olympic medal, unfortunately it won't be for Rio 2016.
More than 100 family and friends gathered at Murphy's Rock Bar in Ballyvolane, Cork, to cheer on the 38-year-old Togher star as he attempted to make Irish athletic history at his fifth Olympic Games.
Rob made his debut back at the 2000 Sydney Games and yesterday defied searing Brazilian heat and humidity to finish sixth, just 2.57 minutes behind the Slovakian winner.
He finished fourth in the 50km walk at the 2012 London Olympics but was upgraded to the bronze medal earlier this year when Russian athlete Sergey Kirdyapkin was disqualified for a doping offence.
But the Irish athlete asked for the London medal award ceremony to be postponed until after the Rio Games to avoid distraction.
Unfortunately, despite an heroic effort in gruelling conditions, Rob wasn't able to make history by adding a Rio medal to his London haul as he finished sixth.
It wasn't for lack of support back home though as Rob's father Bobby and sisters Rhonda, Anthea and Lynsey joined his children, Cathal and Meghan, extended family members, neighbours and Togher AC supporters to cheer him on.
"We're so proud of him. The conditions out there must have been terrible with that heat," his older sister Rhonda said.
"He's a legend, a true legend. How many sisters can say they cheered on their brother in five different Olympic Games?" Anthea asked.
Bobby admitted he was nervous watching the race given the difficult weather conditions and the obvious toll the temperature was taking on the athletes. "I'm so proud of him - that must have been really tough out there."
Togher AC official Aidan Hartnett said Rob had been a huge asset for Cork and Irish athletics for years.
"The 50km is a cruel event. It's energy sapping. The heat and humidity out there was horrendous to watch."
Independent.ie Comments Facility
INM has taken the decision to remove the commenting facility on its online platform Independent.ie to minimise the legal risk to our business that arises from Ireland's draconian libel awards system.
We continue to look forward to receiving comments through direct email contact or via social media, some of which may still be featured on the website Independent.ie