Rob Heffernan

Week 127 (19 - 25 March 2016)

Irish race walker Rob Heffernan was this week awarded a bronze medal from the London 2012 Olympic Games and his reaction underlined, once again, how important it is for sports authorities to continue to fight doping in sport and to continue to deliver justice for clean athletes.

For Heffernan, who will compete in his fifth Olympic Games at Rio 2016, it has been three and a half years since he competed in the 50km walk at London 2012 when he finished fourth on the day.

But with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling on Thursday that gold medallist Sergey Kirdyapkin had been stripped of his medal, Heffernan was moved up into the bronze medal position.

The 38-year-old told the Irish Times: “It’s a great feeling, I’m absolutely delighted, excited, all those things. And I think that’s great too because a part of me was wondering would I still feel it.”

Of course Heffernan will never be able to recreate the moment of stepping onto the podium in London to receive his bronze medal.  But if he harboured any negative feelings he chose to keep them to himself, saying: “Of course it’s not the same as winning the Olympic medal on the day, but I know from my own experience how these things work, and after all the hysteria and excitement that comes with winning any medal, it’s only later, when you’re on your own and away from it all, that the satisfaction of it all really sinks it. And I’ll still get that feeling after all this.”

And it’s that feeling, articulated clearly by Heffernan, which sports authorities are fighting so hard to preserve. That feeling which hard-working athletes who dedicate their lives to a sport receive when they achieve a life-long goal. That feeling cuts to the heart of why sport at an elite level exists and why elite sportspeople exist. And it’s well worth fighting for. Just ask Rob Heffernan.

Photo: All Athletics