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There's no stopping him! Evergreen Heffernan lands Athlete of the Year award

Athletics Ireland’s annual award ceremony took place this afternoon.

Heffernan finished eighth at the World Championships in London.
Heffernan finished eighth at the World Championships in London.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

ROB HEFFERNAN HAS this afternoon been crowned Athlete of the Year at the National Athletics Awards in Santry, regaining the title from Thomas Barr who had won it two years in a row.

The Cork race walker fought off stiff competition from Gina Akpe-Moses and Brian Gregan to claim the top award at Athletics Ireland’s annual awards ceremony, while he also received the endurance athlete of the year award.

Heffernan produced a terrific performance at the World Championships in August, as he conjured a strong finish which lifted him six places in the final 10km to cross the line in eighth place.

Despite initial suggestions he was due to retire after London, the five-time Olympian has since said that he will be exploring all his options with a potential swansong coming at next summer’s European Championships in Berlin.

Nobody can deny Heffernan is a deserving winner of the award, but Akpe-Moses can consider herself a little unlucky to miss out after she stormed to 100m gold at the European U20 Championships in July.

The 18-year-old sprinter received the U20 athlete award, while Siofra Cleirigh Buttner was recognised with the U23 award.

Gregan won the track and field athlete of the year award after qualifying for the 400m semi-finals in London.

Meanwhile, Ray Flynn was inducted into the Athletics Ireland Hall of Fame for 2017.

Flynn is the current Irish record holder for the 1500m and mile and also represented Ireland at two Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984.

National Athletics Award winners 2017:

  • Athlete of the Year: Robert Heffernan (Togher)
  • Hall of Fame: Ray Flynn
  • Lifetime service to Athletics: Al Guy
  • Outstanding Official Award: Pat Kelly (St Abban’s)
  • U20 Athlete: Gina Akpe-Moses (Blackrock – Louth)
  • U23 Athlete: Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (DSD)
  • Endurance: Robert Heffernan (Togher)
  • Track & Field: Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers)
  • Inspirational Performance: Cliodhna Manning (Kilkenny City Harriers)
  • Special Recognition Award: Deirdre Ryan and Paul Hession
  • Performance Club: Clonliffe Harriers
  • Development Club: Nenagh Olympic AC
  • Team of the Year: Irish men’s European Race Walking Team
  • Service to Coaching: Hayley and Drew Harrison
  • Mountain Runner: Des Kennedy (Raheny Shamrock)
  • Master Athlete: Mark O’Shea (Drogheda and District)
  • Ultra Athlete: Eoin Keith (Sportsworld)
  • University Athlete: Phil Healy (Bandon/UCC)

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