Club prepares for Heffernan tribute

Members of the club where Irish athletics latest world champion honed his skills will walk their hero tonight through the streets where he grew up.

Members of Togher AC in Cork will form a guard of honour for world 50k race walking champion Rob Heffernan for what’s expected to be the most emotional of a series of weekend homecoming celebrations.

The 35-year-old became the first Irish athlete in 18 years to win gold at the world outdoor athletics championships when he won the 50k race walk in Moscow last Wednesday.

Hundreds of well-wishers greeted him at Dublin airport on Friday before almost 5,000 people lined the Grand Parade in Cork that evening for a huge welcome home party.

But tonight, Rob is returning to his roots and the athletics club where it all started.

Rob, his wife and coach, Marian, and their children, Cathal and Meghan, will be paraded through Togher to a reception at the local community Hall, near Togher AC’s headquarters in an event organised by Togher Community Association and Togher AC.

“When he arrived in to Dublin from Moscow last Friday, he said he was glad to be home,” said community association spokesman Fergal Dennehy.

“When he arrived in Cork City for the huge homecoming celebration last Friday, he said he was really home. But tonight, he really and truly is coming home.”

Togher AC secretary Ian Hartnett said the club’s 131 members were thrilled last year to have two members competing in the London Olympics — Rob, who finished fourth in the 50k walk, and Marian.

“But to have Rob coming back now as a world champion is just unbelievable,” he said. “We hope it will help develop our club profile, attract new members and build a profile for Rob’s sport.”

A piper will lead tonight’s parade at 7.30pm from the bottom of Edward Walsh Rd towards St Finbarr’s GAA club, before walking over the flyover to Deanrock where a podium will be erected.

Rob, who spent time over the weekend catching up with friends and family, will address the crowd before a reception takes place inside for invited guests.

City officials are planning to host a reception for Rob Heffernan in the coming weeks.

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