Deemed too small for his school’s Gaelic football team at the age of fourteen, Rob Heffernan took up race walking on a whim. Over the next twenty-four years, driven by a fiercely competitive nature and a dogged desire to be the best in the world, he strode his way to the pinnacle of the sport, becoming world champion of the 50km walk in Moscow in 2013 & Bronze medal in London 2012 Olympics. In 2016, he became the first athlete ever to represent Ireland at the Olympic Games for a fifth time.
Rob, from Togher in Cork city, says "Years of dedication, self-sacrifice and hard work might get you qualification for the Games, but even after that you still have to time everything right to be in the best form of your life on that one day that counts, the day of your race." In a no-holds-barred account, Rob describes his battles with injury, depression and abject poverty on his way to the top. Even when at his best, he often found himself cheated out of medals by those who crossed the dark line into doping.
Rob has completed many key note addresses over the past couple of years. Honest, outspoken and wearing his heart on his sleeve, Rob is also open about the mistakes he has made, the fiercely competitive nature which drives him, and the lessons he has learned, and the people who have inspired, challenged and supported him along the way. In his talks he looks at the serious side of his sport; his battles with injury, depression and abject poverty on his way to the top. Even when at his best, he often found himself cheated out of medals by those who crossed the dark line into doping. He candidly talks of the confrontations with Athletics Ireland and the Irish Sports Council that raged in the background of his struggle for that prestigious Olympic medal.