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27-07-2018, 01:03   #1
ultrapercy
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Rob Heffernan

Rob Heffernan retired this week. It would be very wrong for there not to be a thread on this forum about him even if it is a token gesture one. My own mixed feeling about some of his dodgy associations and bouts of foot in mouth aside he was a world champion and we dont have many of them.
Happy retirement Rob and thanks for the memories.
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27-07-2018, 14:43   #2
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Winning medals is always a good thing. That it was in race walking kind of lessons it. We only have 4 World championship gold medalists and only a few more medalists on the Olympic stage. Rob has both but he's not listed in the same breath as Sonia or Ronnie or Treacy. How many kids start athletics dreaming of becoming a race walker? Anyway, well done on a good career Rob.
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27-07-2018, 14:52   #3
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Winning medals is always a good thing. That it was in race walking kind of lessons it. We only have 4 World championship gold medalists and only a few more medalists on the Olympic stage. Rob has both but he's not listed in the same breath as Sonia or Ronnie or Treacy. How many kids start athletics dreaming of becoming a race walker? Anyway, well done on a good career Rob.
Bit harsh I think. He is listed in the same breath as the likes of Sonia, Ronnie and Treacy because he has achieved what they have achieved. Only Rob Heffernan and Sonia have won medals at the Worlds outdoor and Olympics, is that right? How you rank those medals is another matter I would say. Maybe kids dont grow up dreaming of becoming great racewalkers, but like any sport or discipline, it needs its heroes too.
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27-07-2018, 15:33   #4
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Bit harsh I think. He is listed in the same breath as the likes of Sonia, Ronnie and Treacy because he has achieved what they have achieved. Only Rob Heffernan and Sonia have won medals at the Worlds outdoor and Olympics, is that right? How you rank those medals is another matter I would say. Maybe kids dont grow up dreaming of becoming great racewalkers, but like any sport or discipline, it needs its heroes too.
I don't think his name gets listed in the same breath as the others. Maybe I'm wrong on that. I think it's mainly because race walking isn't taken as seriously. When you see pictures of ground level views of the race walkers feet you kind of feel dubious about the merits of the event. Well done to Rob all the same.
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27-07-2018, 16:08   #5
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I don't think his name gets listed in the same breath as the others. Maybe I'm wrong on that. I think it's mainly because race walking isn't taken as seriously. When you see pictures of ground level views of the race walkers feet you kind of feel dubious about the merits of the event. Well done to Rob all the same.
Yes, he's obviously not as recognisable as some of those you've mentioned because he did not compete in what we might call a blue riband event. I think thats fair to point out alright. But in terms of pure achievement, i dont see why he wouldnt be up there with any of the greats of the past. Is it easier to win a major racewalking medal than say a 1500m one? Some might argue it is, on account of likely superior participation numbers in that event, but i'm not sure thats the case. I'm not personally a huge racewalking fan myself, but definitely wouldn't begrudge Rob Heffernan any credit he is due on that basis.
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27-07-2018, 16:54   #6
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Winning medals is always a good thing. That it was in race walking kind of lessons it. We only have 4 World championship gold medalists and only a few more medalists on the Olympic stage. Rob has both but he's not listed in the same breath as Sonia or Ronnie or Treacy. How many kids start athletics dreaming of becoming a race walker? Anyway, well done on a good career Rob.
I suppose you could put a caveat on anyone really. There were no East Africans during Ronnie's time, very little during Treacy's, and while there were a fair few during Sonia's time, they hadn't emerged on the women's side at that point to the extent they had on the men's side.

Racewalking, much like the hammer throw and the decathlon, will never be a glamorous event. The 50km is an incredibly fascinating event though. I'm not fond of the 20km, but the last 10-15km of the 50km can be one of the most unpredictable and eventful events in athletics. You just don't know how somebody's body is going to react in the latter stages, and all hell can break loose.

His consistency has been very impressive over the years. Over 50km alone, he was 4th in 2010 Europeans, bronze in 2012 Olympics, gold in 2013 Worlds, 5th in 2015 Worlds, 6th in 2016 Olympics and 8th in 2017 Worlds. Add in his 20km achievements with 6th in the 2007 Worlds and bronze in the 2010 Europeans into the mix and you've got a very stellar career right there.

It will be a barren spell for Ireland in racewalking now. Over the last 16 years we've had either Gillian O'Sullivan, Olive Loughnane or Rob Heffernan fighting for medals. Now we have nobody.
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27-07-2018, 17:06   #7
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We'll miss his dulcet Togher tones. A shout out for Marian as well. Really a key part of his success. Our only Olympian Golden Couple.
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27-07-2018, 17:42   #8
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Yes, he's obviously not as recognisable as some of those you've mentioned because he did not compete in what we might call a blue riband event. I think thats fair to point out alright. But in terms of pure achievement, i dont see why he wouldnt be up there with any of the greats of the past. Is it easier to win a major racewalking medal than say a 1500m one? Some might argue it is, on account of likely superior participation numbers in that event, but i'm not sure thats the case. I'm not personally a huge racewalking fan myself, but definitely wouldn't begrudge Rob Heffernan any credit he is due on that basis.
Oh no, great credit to him. He's had huge success. I just don't hold race walking in the same esteem as other disciplines. I think others are the same but who am I? And he wouldn't care one way or the other.
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27-07-2018, 17:47   #9
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I suppose you could put a caveat on anyone really. There were no East Africans during Ronnie's time, very little during Treacy's, and while there were a fair few during Sonia's time, they hadn't emerged on the women's side at that point to the extent they had on the men's side.

Racewalking, much like the hammer throw and the decathlon, will never be a glamorous event. The 50km is an incredibly fascinating event though. I'm not fond of the 20km, but the last 10-15km of the 50km can be one of the most unpredictable and eventful events in athletics. You just don't know how somebody's body is going to react in the latter stages, and all hell can break loose.

His consistency has been very impressive over the years. Over 50km alone, he was 4th in 2010 Europeans, bronze in 2012 Olympics, gold in 2013 Worlds, 5th in 2015 Worlds, 6th in 2016 Olympics and 8th in 2017 Worlds. Add in his 20km achievements with 6th in the 2007 Worlds and bronze in the 2010 Europeans into the mix and you've got a very stellar career right there.

It will be a barren spell for Ireland in racewalking now. Over the last 16 years we've had either Gillian O'Sullivan, Olive Loughnane or Rob Heffernan fighting for medals. Now we have nobody.
Yeah but those caveats are different to where the sport itself comes into question. I won't post pictures but when you see some from ground level of race walking it doesn't look good. You then wonder how are the cards given out, how can pick one athlete over another to receive punishment?
That's why he's not listed with the others but as I said, he played by the rules and made a great career for himself.
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28-07-2018, 05:26   #10
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Originally Posted by ultrapercy View Post
Rob Heffernan retired this week. It would be very wrong for there not to be a thread on this forum about him even if it is a token gesture one. My own mixed feeling about some of his dodgy associations and bouts of foot in mouth aside he was a world champion and we dont have many of them.
Happy retirement Rob and thanks for the memories.
Fantastic achievements and rightly acknowledged although would echo your mixed feelings on his associations. Happy retirement to him.

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We'll miss his dulcet Togher** tones. A shout out for Marian as well. Really a key part of his success. Our only Olympian Golden Couple.
** A Ballyphehane lad actually - neighbouring parish to Tougher but an important distinction 😉
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30-07-2018, 09:06   #11
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I suppose you could put a caveat on anyone really. There were no East Africans during Ronnie's time, very little during Treacy's, and while there were a fair few during Sonia's time, they hadn't emerged on the women's side at that point to the extent they had on the men's side.

Racewalking, much like the hammer throw and the decathlon, will never be a glamorous event. The 50km is an incredibly fascinating event though. I'm not fond of the 20km, but the last 10-15km of the 50km can be one of the most unpredictable and eventful events in athletics. You just don't know how somebody's body is going to react in the latter stages, and all hell can break loose.

His consistency has been very impressive over the years. Over 50km alone, he was 4th in 2010 Europeans, bronze in 2012 Olympics, gold in 2013 Worlds, 5th in 2015 Worlds, 6th in 2016 Olympics and 8th in 2017 Worlds. Add in his 20km achievements with 6th in the 2007 Worlds and bronze in the 2010 Europeans into the mix and you've got a very stellar career right there.

It will be a barren spell for Ireland in racewalking now. Over the last 16 years we've had either Gillian O'Sullivan, Olive Loughnane or Rob Heffernan fighting for medals. Now we have nobody.
I'd completely agree.

I would nearly compare him more to Sean Kelly/ Stephen Roche than say Sonia or Ronnie Delany.

When Ronnie was Olympic Champion, 1500m running was possible the most glamourous form of sporting competition going - athletics was close to football in terms of popularity.

Whereas - Irish people would not have been that familiar with Race Walking, in the same way that in the 1980s they'd have known flip all about TdeF or classics in Belgium.

But then when you have an Irish interest, then the you watch the sport much more closely, and then the sport itself becomes fascinating. As you point out, the last 10k of a 50k race walk can be quite incredibly dramatic.

The other thing about Heffernan which cant be taken away from him is that you always felt he delivered his very best performance possible in the big events; and you didnt always feel that about Sonia, Treacy or Coghlan.
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