Robert Heffernan will be part of the Irish Race Walking team that will travel to Saransk, Russia for the prestigious IAAF World Race Walking Cup on the 12-13th May. A record number of 67 countries have entered to compete. The prominent Russian athletes on home soil are expected to claim the majority of the podium spots.
Heffernan (Togher AC) finished in fourth position in the men’s 20k event at the recent race walking grand prix in Portugal. This was Heffernan’s best ever performance at a race walking grand prix, finishing in a time of 1:21:28, which was only 14 seconds off a podium position. Heffernan is likely to target the 50km in London and will use the 20km race in Russia to sharpen up and gauge his competitive progress.
Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny AC) has already achieved the 50km qualification standard for the Olympics and will line up alongside Heffernan in Russia. Boyce has been in great form lately setting a personal best of 3:57:53 for 50km in the Dudince grand prix.
It was at the Dudince grand prix that Colin Griffin (Ballinamore AC) and Jamie Costin (West Waterford AC) came agonisingly close to achieving the 50km standard. Griffin was on track for qualification but he was disqualified at the 42km mark while Costin was also on target before rising temperatures forced him to drop out at the 32km mark. Last weekend Griffin and Costin came through a 20km event in Naumburg clocking 1:24:40 and 1:25:25 respectively. Saransk offers both athletes the perfect opportunity to achieve the elusive standard. Michael Doyle (Tara AC) is the third of the Irish athletes competing in the 50km event and will target a personal best.
In the women’s event Olive Loughnane (Loughrea AC) and Laura Reynolds (Mohill AC) will line up. Loughnane will target a solid confidence boosting performance as she prepares for the Olympic Games. Loughnane will relish the opportunity to test her reserve against top international competition. Reynolds set an impressive personal best of 1:34:40 in Naumburg last weekend. Reynolds has achieved the Olympic B standard on numerous occasions, the 1:33:30 A standard is the target for Reynolds in Saransk.
2011 World Youth Gold medallist Kate Veale (West Waterford AC) will compete in the junior women’s 10km. Veale has been in great form this season having won the 10km event in the Lugano Race walking Grand Prix back in March. Veale will be joined on the start line by Irish teammate Emma Prendiville (Farranfore Maine Valley AC).
In the junior men’s race James Treanor (Shercock AC) and Luke Hickey (Leevale AC) are set to compete and both athletes will target personal best performances.
Patsy McGonagle, who will manage the Irish team for his third Olympic Games in London said, “This is the strongest team we have ever sent to a World Cup and the fact that we have so many qualifiers already for London and with the possibility of Reynolds and either Costin or Griffin being added to the list makes it a very exciting trip.”
Arguably the least well known of the Senior team is Rathfeigh’s Michéal Doyle, a member of Tara AC .
“I’ve been training for this for years, I’ve been based in Spain for the last two months, training twice a day, seven days a week,” he told the ‘Meath Chronicle’
“That schedule would also include four days in the gym as well as 180 kms per week on the roads,” he added.
With both Griffin (a former Irish record holder who competed in Beijing) and three times Olympian Costin in the field – it will be a huge task more so as Boyce and Heffernan have already qualified for the walking events.
How does Doyle, the rank outsider in the Irish senior squad, rate his chances?
“I’ve always wanted to compete in the Olympics, I’m 24 and it’s my birthday in a fortnight, qualifying for London would be a great way to celebrate.
“I want to represent my country at the Olympics, the race next Sunday is at 5.30am Irish time, so by the time everyone gets up I hope that I will have qualified,” he told the ‘Meath Chronicle’.
Doyle, who studies at the University of Bedfordshire in England, will be bidding to break three hours and 56 minutes for the 50km event.
The event takes place in Saransk,capital of the Republic of Mordovia ,some 400 miles South East of Moscow,and has attracted a record number of walkers from more than 67 countries..
SportsNewsIreland wishes the very best of luck to all the Irish teams in their quest for glory in Saransk
Irish Team for IAAF World Race Walking Cup Saransk
10km Junior Men
10km Junior Women