Rob Heffernan after last year's triumph in Moscow. ©INPHO/Ian MacNicol
world champ

Rio still on the radar for World Champion Heffernan but Zurich the main goal for 2014

Last year’s World Champion is gearing up for a new season.

ROB HEFFERNAN IS continuing to aim to feature at the Olympics in Rio De Janeiro in 2016 but next August’s European Championships in Zurich are his immediate focus for 2014.

Heffernan finished second at a mile race at the Millrose Games in New York recently and is gearing up for the season ahead after winning the gold medal in the 50km walk at last year’s World Championships in Moscow.

His wife Marian, who gave birth to their daughter Regan last month, is also her husband’s manager and revealed he has been ‘humbled’ by returning to training and competing in the wake of that triumph.

And all eyes are now on the European Athletics Championships which take place in the city of Zurich from August 12th-17th.

“Rio is definitely on the horizon but you have to take it year by year because you don’t know what each year will throw at you,” revealed Marian. “So fingers crossed he’ll be aiming for a podium position there.  It’s definitely a big thing, straight away after London you kind of decide whether you’ll do another Olympic cycle.

“I think after Moscow last year you need new goals, you need changes in the year because you can’t do the exact same year, so he got the the opportunity to do the Melrose games in New York last week, and that was only a mile but it was still a peak.

“The second he has to put one foot in front of the other and go back training, he’s humbled straight away. So I think the medal is fantastic but it’s short lived. He is racing in Switzerland next week.

“Then the World speed walking championships are on in China in May. Then he’ll be gearing up for Zurich, and he has the National 10km but other than that it’s all for Zurich.”

Marian admitted that Rob’s profile has exploded since last year’s glory but they have coped with a busy start to the year after the birth of their daughter.

“After London, there was hype, I think it was within sport, we were not there yet, But after Moscow there were so many different pockets of the Irish community that would not have known us before, and Rob is definitely a household name more so now.

“I think the fact that he trains in Ireland, he does most of his training in Cork, he’s nearly home grown, he’s not a celebrity, he is part of the furniture more or less. It’s been controlled the last few weeks, I think people have kind of been leaving us off, but it has been fine. She’s probably the easiest baby i’ve ever come across so I’m haunted.

*Marian Heffernan was speaking at the launch of the 2014 An Post Cycle Series -

Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

Rob Heffernan’s 50km gold voted the greatest Irish sporting achievement of 2013