Ireland’s Rob Heffernan produced another competitive performance on the international stage today at the 10th biennial European Cup of Race Walking in Slovakia.
Competing in the 20km event, Heffernan finished a very commendable 9th position in a very tough field in soaring temperatures in the famous Spa town of Dudince.
Heffernan kept pace throughout the race from the start, and only began to lose ground over the last 3km to the leading group, which included eventual winner Denis Strelkov of Russia who won in 1:21:41. Heffernan’s time was a solid 1:23:27.
The Cork man will have real grounds to be pleased with his performance considering the conditions in Dudince and the fact that he will be likely focusing on the longer 50km event later in the season, hopefully at the World Championships in Russia in August.
Heffernan’s 9th place finish today in this event is his best performance since his 4th place in 2009 in France over the 20km distance.
The bronze medal winning performance of Matej Toth of Slovakia was understandably a crowd-pleasing moment for the locals in Dudince.
Heffernan had two improving compatriots in the same event today, in the shape of 2012 Olympian Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny AC) and Westport AC’s Cian McManamon.
Boyce and McManamon stuck to their task well, and considering temperatures were in the 30’s, will both be happy to have finished the event armed with increased fitness and experience. Boyce crossed in 35th place and McManamon in 47th.
Heffernan was not the only Irish walker to perform particularly well today in Slovakia.
In the Junior Men’s 10km event, Leevale’s Luke Hickey finished in 14th place in a top quality field of emerging talent, in a time of 44:49.
The winner, by the closest of margins, was the Russian Pavel Parshin in 41:14, from his compatriot Nikolay Markov, who were both given the same time but then separated by chip timing technology. Ireland’s other representative in this event was Evan Lynch (Leevale AC) who struggled in the conditions and failed to finish.
In the Men’s 50km event, Tara AC’s Michael Doyle equipped himself admirably in what was his first outing over the immensely challenging distance. Doyle finished in a noteworthy 21st position in a time of 4:08:03, behind the Double European Champion Yohann Diniz of France who collected another title in 3:41:08, in front of a number of challenging Russians, traditionally strong in this event.
Ireland’s sole female race walker competing today in Slovakia was London Olympian Laura Reynolds (Mohill AC), who had hopes of competing well in the women’s 20km race. In the event, Reynolds found the conditions too challenging this afternoon and, after a positive start, dropped out around the 10km mark. It wasn’t the season opener she would have wanted but there will be plenty more opportunities to progress over the season ahead.
Russia claimed a 123 in this women’s 20km event with the ever competitive Anisia Kirdiapkina taking the gold in 1:28:40.
Results – 10th European Cup Of Race Walking, Dudince, Slovakia, May 19th 2013
Senior Men 50km
1. Yohann Diniz (France) 3:41:08
2. Mikhail Ryzhov (Russia) 3:44:42
3. Ivan Noskov (Russia) 3:45:32
21. Micheal Doyle (Ireland / Tara AC) 4:08:03
Senior Men 20km
1. Denis Strelkov (Russia) 1:21:41
2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Spain) 1:21:49
3. Matej Toth (Slovakia) 1:21:52
9. Rob Heffernan (Ireland / Togher AC) 1:23:27
35. Brendan Boyce (Ireland / Letterkenny AC) 1:28:57
47. Cian McManamon (Ireland / Westport AC) 1:33:13
Junior Men 10km
1. Pavel Parshin (Russia) 41:14
2. Nikloay Markov (Russia) 41:14
3. Vito Minei (Italy) 41:27
14. Luke Hickey (Ireland / Leevale AC)
DNF. Evan Lynch (Ireland / Leevale AC)
Senior Women 20km
1. Anisia Kirdiapkina (Russia) 1:28:40
2. Vera Sokolova (Russia) 1:29:19
3. Marina Iumanova (Russia) 1:29:26
DNF: Laura Reynolds (Ireland / Mohill AC)