World Champion Rob Heffernan has revealed his ambition to create a high performance centre for international race-walkers in Cork City.
Heffernan, who spends long periods of the year training abroad, admitted plans are afoot to make the City a hub for the world’s top endurance athletes.
“I have had this desire over the past number of years to create a high performance centre in Cork,” said the 50km gold medallist. That is my dream, when I finish the sport that I will be able to influence athletes and especially walkers so that they can compete on the world stage.
“The high performance centre would be a hub for walkers. I would be able to relate more with walkers, but I would love to work with endurance athletes if they needed hubs to go to. My friend has a house on the northside of Cork City and he is working on that, so it can house up to 15 athletes. We can make it into an athlete hotel. At the moment we are looking at getting someone in there who would be able to make that house completely athlete orientated, a place where they can get phsyio, a massage, access to a gym, use of the tracks, they will have someone in there cooking also. We are looking at all that stuff now.”
Heffernan begins preparations for the 2014 season in the coming weeks, pointing to the European Championships in Zurich as his key medal focus, but said the recent win in Moscow has yet to hit home.
“It is still a bit surreal and I don’t think it will sink in until I go back into my normal routine. It has been a whirlwind month. September is always my month off and I always get totally disconnected from the sport. This time, however, I haven’t had any time off because things have been so crazy, being on The Late Late Show, there has been loads of TV and press stuff. I don’t think until I go back into my normal routine and analyse things clearly will I realise the impact of my performance.
“I get up every day and I say the hysteria will be gone and every day I am surprised. It hasn’t died down. I was in Dublin last week and you have all sorts of people recognising you and that takes me back. It’s great for athletics.”
Expressing his goal to continue competing until after the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the Togher native vowed there would be no let-up in the wake of his World Championship win.
“There is a view out there that because I am World Champion I will take the foot of the gas. Not at all. The European Championships next summer is a massive motivation for me. I know the work I have to do to get back up to the highest level. You’re either motivated or you’re not. I could gladly pack it in now because I have had a great career, I hold all the Irish records, but I want to change the Irish mentality that when we do well lads go boozing for the year and they don’t come back. I want to do well and let people know that I am still motivated.
“I’m healthier now than ever. I feel better than I did this time last year. I have a terrific set-up around me, so I am buzzing going forward and really excited about returning.”
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