Robert Heffernan received his Olympic Bronze Medal in an emotional ceremony in Cork City Hall last Thursday 3rd November. The packed house was bursting with pride and in awe of the man who in both character and achievements has won the hearts of Cork and Ireland.
Some of our club members were privileged to witness Rob receive his medal. It was a proud moment for us to be associated with such an incredible athlete and to see the Togher AC singlet feature so vividly in the slideshow highlighting Rob’s career.
Mr Hayes, longstanding Togher AC member and Rob’s first coach, was amongst a panel who spoke about Rob’s early days in athletics. Stories were shared about Rob also from friends that included world champions and fellow Olympic medalists. Those who entertained the crowd with stories gave us a glimpse of how and why Rob is the success that he is and understand better his determination, hard work, likeability and warm nature. His wife and coach, Marian is of course a huge part of his success.
The Bronze Olympic Medal for the 50km race walk was presented to Rob four years after the 2012 London Olympics where he came in fourth place, following a superb race on the day there. Russian, Sergey Kirdyapkin was stripped of his Olympic title in March 2016 for a doping violation, allowing Rob to take his rightful place on the podium.
Given the circumstances, Rob accepted his medal graciously and actually saw that not winning the medal in 2012 meant that he worked harder to prepare for the World Championships in Moscow in 2013. This led him to ultimately become the World 50km Champion at this event. It was clear that Rob was thrilled to be presented with the medal in Cork city and this was certainly a unique moment in our history, an Olympic medal being awarded on Irish soil for the first and possibly only time.
On the same night, Rob launched his autobiography ‘Walking Tall’. It details Rob’s journey to being European Champion, World Champion and now Olympic Champion. No doubt in due course there will be a sequel as we hope Rob’s career has much more joy to bring us all! Congratulations from everyone in Togher AC to Rob and Marian on this well deserved and phenomenal achievement.