Irish Heffernan breaks Russia's dominance in race walking

 Irish Heffernan breaks Russia
# 14 August 2013 21:15 (UTC +04:00)

Bku-APA. Robert Heffernan of Ireland broke the hosts' domination in race walking and claimed men's 50km title with a world leading time in the only final scheduled on Day 5 of the 2013 IAAF World Championships here on Wednesday, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

It was the first major title for the 35-year-old Heffernan, the fourth finisher in London Games last summer as he clocked 3 hours, 37 minutes and 56 seconds to finish the longest race at the World Championships.

It was also the first World Championship medal won by an Irish male athlete in exactly 30 years after Eamonn Coghlan burst off the final bend to win the 5000m at the first World Championships in Helsinki on Aug. 14, 1983.

"That is brilliant. This victory is very important for me and for Ireland. It was not until I got into the stadium that I could relax and enjoy it. I was fourth last year in London, but this year I was not injured, I was in even better condition and I was very well prepared for this race. I knew I could do better today, I believed I could be the winner," said an emotional Heffernan.

"My wife is here with me and we are so happy! To win here is a dream come true. I loved the course and I really enjoyed the race. It was very tough but I tried to stay positive. The last 10 kilometres are like a crucifixion, so all you can do is to prepare mentally for this."

Russia's Mikhail Ryzhov, 21, clocked a personal best of 3:38:58, but failed to finish Russian walkers gold medal collection in Moscow as he was outwalked by Heffernan in a savage battle between 30km and 40km and had to settle with a silver. ( "The plan for the race was just to focus on the pace, to make it even and try to finish strong. The course is very convenient, very flat. I managed to improve my personal best by around six minutes, so I'm very happy with the time and with the medal, of course. It's not that I lost the gold, I won the silver! It's just my third 50km race, so I just didn't have enough experience, if it was my fifth or sixth race, maybe I'd be fighting for the win," Ryzhov said.

"I made some mistakes, and I believe I can learn from them. In the beginning, Robert was going fast and he was kind of doing intervals in terms of pace, so my mistake was to try following him too early. Actually, before the start I was more afraid of Jared, but I knew that Robert is a very experienced athlete and that he is in a good shape."

As a superpower in race walking, Russia collected all the three walk gold medals in Daegu worlds in 2011. The hosts also claimed titles in men's and women's 20km races but failed to repeat the gold sweep in Moscow.

Two-time Olympic silver medalist Jared Tallent notched the bronze in 3:40:03, but the 28-year-old is longing for the gold.

"I am happy with the bronze but I was definitely pushing for more. It is my fifth medal in a major championship and still no gold!" said the Aussie.

"For me it was very tough, I felt terrible in the race early on. At first, I didn't think I would finish, but as the race got further I started to get better and I had a strong last 10km that allowed me to get the bronze. I had a different preparation this year but maybe it didn't go as well as we thought. Now, I am definitely going to push on to Beijing and Rio. Hopefully in two years' time I will get it right."

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