Robert Heffernan qualifies for World Championships and Olympics

There was double joy for Robert Heffernan (Togher AC) at the 50km race walk in Dudince, Slovakia on Saturday where he finished fourth in 3:48:44 to qualify for the World Championships in Beijing this summer and a record fifth Olympic Games.

Home hero Matej Toth crossed the line first in 3:34:38, the third-fastest time in history while Heffernan’s 3:48:44 in fourth was his fastest performance outside of major championships.

With temperatures about 14C, the top eight finishers went faster than 3:50 with another four dipping below the four-hour barrier.

Heffernan declared he was “thrilled” to qualify for his fifth Olympic Games – a feat that hasn’t been achieved before.

Letterkenny’s Brendan Boyce was equally pleased, finishing a place behind Heffernan in fifth in a new personal best of 3:48:55.

Darragh McElhinney was the big story of the SIAB Schools’ Cross Country International in Santry Demense on Saturday. The Irish schools team competed against athletes from England, Scotland and Wales in junior and intermediate.

The Coláiste Pobail Bheanntrai student won a thrilling junior boy’s race (4,000m) in a time of 12:52 and also led his team to the silver medals. McElhinney was the only blot on England’s dominance of the event winning the other three individual titles and all four of the team titles.

Michaela Walsh (Swinford AC) starred at the GloHealth National Juvenile Indoor Championships where she threw a massive distance of 15.58m to win the U18 shot put event which improved on the old championship best performance of 13.52m.

Emerald’s Ciara Neville continued her fine form to win the U17 60m in a new championship best of 7.51 seconds. She was pushed all the way by Finn Valley’s Janine Boyle who finished second in 7.61.

On the road, Martin Fagan (Mullingar Harriers) ran a swift 48:28 to win the Mallow 10 mile with Mark Hanrahan (Leevale) second in 49:53 and Bantry’s Alan O’Shea third in 51:13. Leevale’s Michelle Finn had a good win in the women’s race in 56:29.

Raheny Shamrocks’ Mick Clohisey won the Craughwell 10 miles in 49:39 while at the Lisbon half marathon in Portugal, Mo Farah won in a new European record of 59:32 – the first Britain to go under 60 minutes for the distance.

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