Friday 25 May 2018

Rob Heffernan set to retire after finishing 8th at the World Championships

13 August 2017; Robert Heffernan of Ireland passes Buckingham Palace as he competes in the Men's 50km Race Walk final during day ten of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships at The Mall in London, England. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
13 August 2017; Robert Heffernan of Ireland passes Buckingham Palace as he competes in the Men's 50km Race Walk final during day ten of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships at The Mall in London, England. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

The curtain appears to have come down on one of the great careers in Irish sport, with Rob Heffernan indicating he will likely retire after his eighth-place finish in the 50km race walk at the World Championships in London this morning.

The 39-year-old battled through the field over the final 10km to cross the line in 3:44:41, 11 minutes behind gold medallist Yohann Diniz of France, and afterwards he announced that it was almost certainly his last race.

"I’m happy I finished on a positive note," he said.

"It’s time for me to help the new generation and I think that opportunity is going to arise. I want to thank everybody because I’ve got such great support from everyone in Ireland, but the body has lost that desire to be massively competitive and massively hurt."

Heffernan, the Olympic bronze medallist in 2012 and world champion in 2013, indicated he is in talks with Athletics Ireland about contributing his expertise in the future, but while nothing is confirmed just yet, he admitted the thought of carrying on for another year as a professional athlete did not appeal.

"I love racing and the crowd, and it’s not racing that’s the problem – it’s the 11 months beforehand where you have to live as a professional athlete. I miss things with my kids and miss going to their matches and it’s a hard life. A big chunk of the race was very negative today but I ran out of road in the end. I came through strong. The support off the crowd was incredible and I wanted to finish on a positive."

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