Heffernan just misses out on medal

Rob Heffernan, one of the first Irish athletes in action at the Europan Athletics Championships in Barcelona, was just 11 seconds away from winning a bronze medal in the 20km walk.

In warm and testing conditions this morning, Heffernan covered the course in 1 hour and 21 minutes, with Portugal's Joao Vieira finishing just ahead of him (1:20:49).

Russian star Stanislav Emelyanov was a class apart and relatively untroubled over the closing kilometres, coming home for gold in 1:20:10. Italy's Alex Schwazer took silver in 1:20:38.

Waterford's Jamie Costin, the second Irishman taking part, was 20th of the 23 finishers, hitting the line in 1:26:05.

He may have missed out on a medal, but Heffernan, 32, can at least console himself with his fourth top 10 finish at a major Championships.

The Togher clubman was eighth at the Beijing Olympics two years ago, sixth at the World Championships in Osaka the previous year and claimed eighth place at the 2002 Europeans in Munich.

EUROPEAN ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS - MEN'S 20KM WALK:

(1) Stanislav Emelyanov (Russia) 1:20:10

(2) Alex Schwazer (Italy) 1:20:38

(3) Joao Vieira (Portugal) 1:20:49 (Season's Best)

Irish:

(4) Rob Heffernan (Ireland) 1:21:00

(20) Jamie Costin (Ireland) 1:26:05

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