Saturday 20 April 2019

Heffernan carries medal hopes

Ireland's Rob Heffernan. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's Rob Heffernan. Photo: Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

Rob Heffernan will lead an Irish team of 17 athletes at next month's Olympics, becoming the first Irish athlete to compete at five successive Games.

Once again it appears Ireland's medal hopes will start and end with the 38-year-old, who will compete in the 50km race walk on Friday, August 19 alongside team-mates Alex Wright and Brendan Boyce.

The former world champion has been training in Spain since the Cork City Sports, where he finished second to Wright over 3,000m in 11:18.65. Of course Heffernan is guaranteed an Olympic medal regardless this year, but has decided to hold off until after Rio before receiving the 50km bronze medal from London 2012, which he was upgraded to after Russia's Sergey Kirdyapkin was retro-actively banned for doping.

Fresh from her European bronze medal last weekend, Ciara Mageean will compete over 1,500m and the 24-year-old looks to hold the best chance for the Irish on the track.

Ciara Everard has been selected for the 800m, but with just five weeks until the qualifying heats on August 17, the 26-year-old faces a race against time to recover her fitness.

Everard has been out of action for the last two months with an ankle injury.

Thomas Barr and Mark English will make their Olympic debuts in the 400m hurdles and 800m respectively, while Fionnuala McCormack is entered for both the 10,000m and marathon. With less than 48 hours between races, running both may prove an ambitious target.

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