Rob Heffernan: Irish Olympian and former world champion race walker retires

Rob Heffernan won the 50km Race Walk at the 2013 World Championships
Rob Heffernan won the 50km Race Walk at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow

Former world champion race walker Rob Heffernan has retired from athletics.

The five-time Olympian took bronze in the 50km Race Walk at London 2012 before winning over the same distance at the 2013 World Championships.

As part of his retirement, Heffernan, 40, will take up a new consultancy role with Athletics Ireland.

"Rob has represented Ireland on the world stage with distinction for over 20 years," said Athletics Ireland chief executive Hamish Adams.

"Rob has spent his athletic career working hard, getting results and consistently performing under pressure whilst at the same he has given so much back to young and aspiring athletes in this country.

"Rob's competitive career may be over, but we are delighted that his professional relationship with Athletics Ireland will endure and we will be announcing details of his new consultancy role with us in the coming weeks."

The County Cork native made his Olympic debut at Sydney 2000 when he finished 28th in the 20km Race Walk, but he was disqualified from the same event at Athens 2004.

He finished in eighth place at Beijing 2008 before winning his first major medal when he came third at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona, where he also finished fourth in the 50km Walk.

Pierce O'Callaghan tweet
Pierce O'Callaghan (second right) and Heffernan (second left) are former Ireland team-mates

He also came fourth at London 2012 but was upgraded to third after the original winner, Sergey Kirdyapkin, was stripped of his victory following an IAAF appeal.

Heffernan's final Olympic appearance was a sixth-place finish in the 50km Walk at Rio 2016 and he signalled that he was likely to retire after finishing eighth at the World Championships in London in 2017.

As well as the consultancy position with Athletics Ireland, the Corkman is also planning a new career in banking and said he is looking forward to the switch.

"After a lifetime spent dedicated to elite athletics, I am delighted to be making the transition to a second career," he said.

"Retiring from a professional sporting career can be a struggle for many athletes but over the last year I have been working with my management agent, Derry McVeigh, to ensure that I make this transition as smooth as possible."

Heffernan's wife Marian also competed at London 2012, making them the only husband and wife team to represent Ireland at the Olympics.