One of Irish athletics’ brightest hopefuls in the London Olympic Games four years ago, who left without gracing the winners’ podium, is to get a bronze medal from those Games.
Rob Heffernan, 38, gave an heroic effort in the 50km walk but was beaten by a Russian rival.
Now following an appeal by the International Amateur Athletics Federation following revelations of doping by the Russian athletics team he has been upgraded to bronze.
It follows a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which upheld six appeals filed by the IAAF against Russian athletes for doping.
Heffernan reacted with joy on Irish radio.
Speaking on Thursday he said: “I’m buzzing. I got a generic email off the CAS (containing the judgement).
“I had to read it a few times just in case I made a mistake. That makes me an Olympic bronze medallist and it’s unreal.”
He said he knew could be nudged up to third place as the investigation into Kirdyapkin progressed.
“It’s been dragging on and people in Cork have been coming up and congratulating me on being a new Olympic medallist. A lot of people were congratulating me on the gold and I never bothered correcting them.
“I was half living the lie. I was trying to believe it myself. Now that it’s made official, I didn’t know how I’d feel about it. I’m delighted, I’m over the moon, it’s unreal.
“It’s something that as long as I’ve been doing sport and as a kid I’ve been dreaming of, winning an Olympic medal, and now to have one it’s hard to take in.”