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Athletics: Heffernan breaks Irish record to take 30km title

Robert Heffernan smashed his own Irish record when winning the Woodies DIY National 30km walking title in Cork yesterday.

Heffernan, who will be 33 next month, swept his opponents aside as he came home in two hours, seven minutes and 48 seconds -- several seconds inside his old mark.

Colin Griffin from Ballinamore finished second, almost six minutes behind.

Heffernan again showed what a world-class performer he is as he builds up towards the big targets this summer, including the World Championships and the Olympics next year.

He recently spent a month training in Australia and another couple of weeks in Spain, and yesterday's win was no more than another stiff training spin for the man who had two fourth places in the 20km and 50km in the European Championships in Barcelona.

Laura Reynolds, from Mohill, won the women's 20km title in 1:38.08, while Kate Veale took the 7.5km event.

Elsewhere, Martin Fagan failed to finish the Houston Marathon.

Despite going into the race beset by stomach problems and having sprained an ankle, Fagan was was joint leader at the 5km mark in 15:20 and sixth at 10km (30:29). He then dropped behind but was still on 2:12.44 pace at 15km before disappearing off the radar as Bekona Tolesa of Ethiopia stormed to victory.

Mark English, the 17-year-old from Letterkenny, smashed David Matthews' 20-year-old Irish junior 800m indoor record when he clocked 1:48.63 in Cardiff to qualify for the European Junior Championships next July along with runner-up Darren McBrearty, also from Letterkenny (1:48.88).

Fionnuala Britton won women's 500m in 4:21:95, while Rory Finnegan (Letterkenny AC) finished second in the men's junior 1500m in 3:54:93, which qualifies him for the World Youth Games next summer.

Meanwhile, Joe Sweeney of DSD was a very impressive winner of the Raheny Five Mile road race, striding away from former winner Sean Connolly to win in a time of 23:23. Deirdre Byrne of DSD won the women's event comfortably in 26:45.

Ailis McSweeney has started the indoor season in a similar vein to the way she ended her outdoor campaign last summer with a lifetime best over 60 metres at a meeting in Germany.

McSweeney finished third in her heat in 7.36 and then clocked 7.34 as she took the runners-up spot in the final.

The Irish team have come home from the Paralympic World Athletics Championships in New Zealand with two gold medals, a silver and two world records.

The haul was completed on Saturday when Wexford's Catherina Wayland won a gold medal in the discus with a season-best effort of 5.89m. She won silver earlier in the week in a different category in the same discipline.

Irish Independent