From an Irish point of view the top performance at the World Championships in Beijing was the fifth placing by the defending champion Robert Heffernan in the 50K (31.06 miles walk).
Always in contention Heffernan, whose preparations were interrupted earlier on in the season due to injury which necessitated surgery twice, looked at a late stage as if he would challenge for a silver or bronze medal but faded in the final few kilometres.
The race was won by Matej Toth Slovakia, runner up in the European Championships last year in 3 hrs 40 minutes and 32 seconds; Slovakia’s first ever gold medal at the championships.
Heffernan was timed at 3:44.17 a season’s best time, a minute or so behind the bronze medal winner.
Other Irish performances of note were by Thomas Barr Ferrybank in making the 400 metres hurdles semi final and Mark English reaching the 800 metres semi final both ranked very highly in the world now while the men’s 4 x 400 metres relay team that included Thomas Barr in a very hot semi final set a new Irish record of 3.01.26 in finishing eighth which placed them 13th overall, 2:59.80 was the last qualifying time so Ireland improving all the time and not too far away with a very small pool of athletes to choose from.
Kelly Proper was always going to find it hard to get out of the heats in the 200 metres but in finishing sixth in her heat in 23.28 the Ferrybank athlete was not far away from her best time this season of 23.24.
There were many memorable performances in Beijing with the doubles scored by Usain Bolt in the 100 and 200 metres and Mo Farah in the 5000 and 10000 metres being exceptional. Kenya and Jamaica won seven each gold medals each while USA won six and Great Britain four.
Many references have been made in the past week to the drug controversy in the IAAF and some people have been linking it to performances at the World Championships. One has to be very careful when generalising about any sport or individual. You can hear remarks going the rounds like “sure they’re all at it”. Countries that have winners regularly have been mentioned as having athletes with suspicious tests. Here in Ireland any sport which has signed up to the Anti Doping Campaign with the Irish Sports Council can have their members tested out of competition or in competition the same applies worldwide. At the moment in Ireland four athletes from different sports are under suspension for drug offences and these come from Motor Cycling, Athletics, Gaelic Football and Cycling.
From these figures could someone say “sure they’re all at it in these sports”. If the answer is no well then we can’t treat sports people or sports worldwide any differently can we.
Of course when suspensions occur they are then common knowledge and those involved are named and shamed. Only a very small minority of sports people commit drug offences. This can be confirmed from Anti Doping Agencies who do thousands of tests each year with the vast majority negative.
On Saturday next September 5th the annual Cill Barra 6 km has a 6pm start in Ballybeg in Waterford City. Entries are taken on totaltiming.ie online and on the evening from 5 pm at the Cill Barra Centre in Ballybeg
September 11th Ballyduff Lower Co Waterford 5 miles 6.00 pm
Waterford Primary Schools Cross Country
On Tuesday September 15th at 12.30 pm the Waterford Primary Schools Cross Country Sports for boys and girls will be at the RSC .Races over short distances for each class 1st to 6th ranging from 200 metres to 800 metres. Medals for first 12 home in each race and Perpetual Cups for best schools etc. Contact 087 6889330
Open Cross Country fixtures
Sunday Sept 13th Adamstown Co Wexford 12 noon. Sunday 27th Sept Kilmacow 1 pm
The County Convention is in St Augustine’s College Abbeyside on Friday Sept 11th at 8 pm. Motions and nominations to be with Co Secretary John Behan by Saturday September 5th