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."

Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
Jonathan de Guzman of the Netherlands and Willian of Brazil compete for the ball
world cup 2014LIVE BLOG: Hosts Brazil take on the Netherlands in third-place play-off
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice