Heffernan refuses to turn fourth into horror story
Robert Heffernan is not the first Irish race walker to suffer disappointment on the streets of England's capital city. After 3hr 37min 54sec of toil in the heat and high humidity of London, the 34-year-old Corkman crossed the finish line on The Mall a tantalising one place and 38 seconds short of a medal in the men's 50km walk.
"I'm gutted," Heffernan said, as the Russian Sergey Kirdyapkin celebrated gold in an Olympic record 3:35.29, with Jared Talent of Australia taking silver and China's Si Tianfeng bronze. "I did everything right, but that's sport. There were 10 to 15 guys who wanted to win medals today and I finished fourth. What can you do?"
At least the Irishman managed to avoid a red card from the judges – unlike Abraham Stoker when he travelled from Dublin to compete in the five-mile walk at the Civil Service Athletics Championships in London in 1868. The 20-year-old finished comfortably clear of his rivals in 40min 5sec but was subsequently disqualified for "lifting" – allowing his feet to break contact with the ground.
The committee members of the Civil Service Athletics Society were so taken by his performance that they presented him with a silver goblet "in appreciation of a gallant struggle" but Stoker was so gutted by his first and only defeat he decided to move on to other things.
He became a writer – better known as Bram Stoker, author of Dracula.
It was a bit of a horror show out on the 2km circuit yesterday. Of the 63 starters, 12 failed to get to the finish line. Eight suffered the same fate as Bram Stoker, DQs for lifting. Four wilted in the oppressive conditions.
The one British representative, Dominic King, made it round the gruelling 25 laps, but as last of the 51 finishers, in 4:15.05. The 29-year-old was not helped by an early warning from the judges – walkers get three strikes before a red card.
"It did affected me," King confessed. "Coming into the race my priority was to finish, as I have in the past had issues with getting disqualified. I have been working on that for the last 18 months to two years.
"I didn't do too badly. It was my third fastest time ever. Medals were never going to be a question but I feel like I got my own just by getting the biggest cheer of the day."
With the top nine players in the men’s world tennis rankings all missing this tournament to prepare ...
by Gareth Purnell
21 May 2013 02:01 AM
When cyclists look back on their careers spanning many hundreds (and in some cases possibly thousand...
by Martin Ayres
20 May 2013 06:12 PM
As England’s new football strip – made by Nike – is revealed today, new research shows the English F...
by Alex Miller
20 May 2013 04:52 PM
Jose Mourinho clear to rejoin Chelsea after Real Madrid confirm exit at end of season
Tottenham to smash pay scale with £150,000-a-week contract in attempt to tie Gareth Bale to club
Why Arsène Wenger must spend to put icing on the cake and buy likes of Stevan Jovetic for Arsenal
Arsenal considering options as Fiorentina continue to hold-out on Stevan Jovetic
Sam Wallace: As he leaves Real Madrid, make no mistake - Jose Mourinho's return to Chelsea will only end in tears
- 1 'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
- 2 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 3 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 4 X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
- 5 'It was just like the movie Twister': Man survives Oklahoma tornado by taking refuge in horse stall
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.