©INPHO/Morgan Treacy Rob Heffernan is consoled by an Olympic volunteer and Irish athletic team manager Patsy McGonagle after finishing 4th.
London 2012
So near yet...: Rob Heffernan smashes Irish walk record but finishes fourth
The Cork walker took more than seven minutes off his PB in the men’s 50km event.

ROB HEFFERNAN PRODUCED the performance of a lifetime but it wasn’t enough to avoid another agonising near miss in the men’s 50km race walk on Saturday.

After a rush of medals for Team Ireland earlier in the week, Heffernan was seen as the best hope of picking up a sixth podium finish and eclipsing Melbourne 1956 as the country’s most successful Games.

It wasn’t to be for the Cork athlete who smashed the Irish record and his personal best but finished in fourth, just outside the medal places.

Russia’s Sergey Kirdyapkin took gold in a new Olympic record time of 3:35:59. Jared Tallent of Australia was second in 3:36:59 while Australia’s Tianfeng Si warded off Heffernan’s best efforts to take the bronze in 3:37:16.

Heffernan’s time of 3:37:54 was more than seven minutes quicker than his personal best and Irish record which previously stood at 3:45.30.

It is the third time that the 34-year-old has finished fourth at a major championships. At the European Championships in 2010, Heffernan narrowly missed out on medals in both the 20km and the 50km walk.

Brendan Boyce powered through the field in the latter half of the race to finish 29th, setting a new PB of his own in 3:55:01.

But there was disappointment for Colin Griffin who was disqualified shortly before the 40km mark after he received three warnings for a bent knee.

“I tried tactics that were new to me,” the Leitrim athlete told RTÉ Sport shortly afterwards.

“I raced for my best from the start, I felt good. There were a few little injections of pace that I didn’t want to get stuck into in case, so I backed off the group there and that’s when the cards got picked up because I was isolated.

“When I got back into the group at around 30km I felt settled again, but then there was another injection around 35km and I didn’t want to take a chance. I wanted to hold my own rhythm, my own tempo and try to finish strong.

“It’s disappointing. There’s a lot of what could have been, I was going well. It’s not what I trained for, it’s not what my career is all geared towards so it’s a hard one to take.”

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