Rob Heffernan (Togher AC) was named as the Athlete of the Year at the National Athletics Awards in association with Woodie’s DIYand Tipperary Crystal which took on Saturday 17th of November in the Clyde Court Hotel in Dublin 4.
2012 was the year when Rob Heffernan quite literally had the Walk of his life. His fourth place finish in the 50k Walk at the London Olympic Games was the standout performance by an Irish athlete at major championships this season. On that occasion the Togher AC athlete carved his way through the field and came up one place short of what would have been a well deserved Olympic medal. In the process Heffernan destroyed his own national record with a time of 3:37.54. The 34-year-old remains on course to grab the major medal that now appears more probably than possible. Not Surprisingly Rob Heffernan was also awarded the Race Walker of the Year Award for 2012.
Dundrum South Dublin (DSD) were the worthy recipients of the Performance Club of the Year Award. DSD is one of the powerhouses of Irish athletics and the Dublin 14 club enjoyed an exceptional run of success in cross country, road running and track competition over the past year. There was also the addition of the Development Club of the Year Award which went to Carlow club St Laurence O’Toole. The club caters for over 350 members ranging from a 120 strong Fit4Life group to young rising Irish Sprinter Marcus Lawler, who had a fabulous year setting new Irish youth records over 100m (10.72) and 200m (21.42).
2012 was a remarkable year in international competition for our up and coming athletes and this quality is reflected in the winner of that category. Mark English (Letterkenny AC) who had a remarkable 2012, a year in which he lowered the national junior 800m record to a blazing 1:45.77 and finished a brilliant fifth in a highly competitive World Junior Championship final. English was the worthy recipient of Junior Athlete of the Year.
The Endurance Athlete Award went to Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) who struck gold at the European Cross Country Championships in Velenje last December. Britton was also the worthy winner of the Track and Field Athlete of the Year Award. She came agonizingly close to securing a bronze medal over 10,000m at the European Outdoor Championships in Helsinki, having to settle for fourth on that occasion. Britton went on to the London Olympics and placed 15th in the 10,000m and then returned a few days later to run a personal best of 15:12.97 in the heats of the 5,000m.
Teresa McDaid (Letterkenny AC) was the winner of the Coach of the Year. The Donegal coach has assembled an incredible squad of international class middle distance athletes including Mark English, Darren McBrearty and Ruairi Finnegan, whose talent she has nurtured.
Inspirational performance of the year went to Steven Colvert (Crusaders AC) for his outstanding 20.40 second performance over 200m in the heats of the National Senior Championships in Santry. Although the wind was just above the allowable limit on that occasion Colvert is an exciting prospect and looks set for a bright future in the sport.
The Outstanding Official Award was presented to husband and wife Joe and Bernie Walsh of Fingallians AC who both embody the ethos of volunteerism, giving unselfishly their time and energies for the benefit of others. Joe and Bernie have been at the cutting edge of athletics in Ireland for a long time individually and as a couple.
Padraig Griffin was named as the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Padraig played a very significant role in Irish Athletics for almost half a century. The award is a fitting recognition for all those years of service.
Jason Smyth (City of Derry AC) and Michael McKillop (St Malachy’s AC) were worthy recipients of the Special Recognition Award. Both athletes dazzled at the Paralympics Games in London by winning double gold and setting two world records each.
The Master of the Year award was presented to Ciaran O ‘Doherty (Letterkenny AC) after claiming the gold medal at the 2012 World Indoor Masters Championships in the 3,000m in Finland.
The Mountain Runner of the Year was awarded to Brian MacMahon (Clonliffe Harriers AC) who finished sixth at the World Mountain Running Long Distance Race in Switzerland.
The Ultra Running Award was presented to Ruthann Sheahan (Athenry AC) for her fifth place performance at the World 24 hour Championships.
The AVIVA Tailteann Schools’ Awards were awarded to Sarah Lavin of Castletroy College and Caimin Dunne of Belvedere College
There were 27 national records set in track and field competition from junior to senior levels in 2012. The record breakers were honoured on the night for their outstanding achievements.