Rob Heffernan has been crowned Athlete of the Year, while Ray Flynn was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Irish National Athletics Awards today (December 6).
World gold medalist Heffernan received the top award after finishing eighth in the 50km Race Walk at the World Athletics Championships. It was the highest placed performance by an Irish athlete in London this summer.
Heffernan, who turns 40 next February, also won the Endurance Athlete of the Year award, ahead of marathon man Mick Clohisey and fellow race walker Brendan Boyce.
Also, nominated for athlete of the year was Brian Gregan, who had a fantastic return to form in 2017 and qualified for the semi-finals in the 400m at the Wolrd Championships. Gregan did not go away emptied handed and was awarded Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Double Irish record holder Ray Flynn was to be honoured with the induction into the Hall of Fame. Flynn, whose times for 1500m and the mile from the Bislett Games of 1982 are still the fastest ever recorded by an Irishman, ran an impressive 89 sub-4 minute miles during his career.
He competed at the Olympic Games of 1980 and 1984, making the final of the 5000m at the 1984 Games. In 1985, he helped set the 4×1 mile world record in UCD, Dublin, teaming up with Marcus O’Sullivan, Eamonn Coghlan and Frank O’Mara – three other athletes from the golden era of Irish middle distance running.
Based in Tennessee for many years, Flynn remains deeply involved in athletics through his company Flynn Sports Management and as meet director for the Millrose Games in New York, the oldest indoor meet in the USA.
Other athletes to receive honours include Gina Akpe-Moses and Siofra Cleirigh Buttner who received the U20 Athlete of the Year and U23 Athlete of the Year awards respectively.
While the National Athletics Awards is a celebration of the many successes of our international and national it also commemorates the association’s exceptional volunteer base. Al Guy was named as the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient – the pinnacle volunteer award while Pat Kelly of St Abban’s AC won the Outstanding Official of the Year.
Athlete of the Year: Robert Heffernan
Hall of Fame: Ray Flynn
Lifetime service to Athletics: Al Guy
Outstanding Official Award: Pat Kelly
U20 Athlete: Gina Akpe-Moses
U23 Athlete: Siofra Cleirigh Buttner
Endurance: Robert Heffernan
Track & Field: Brian Gregan
Inspirational Performance: Cliodhna Manning
Special Recognition Award: Deirdre Ryan and Paul Hession
Performance Club: Clonliffe Harriers
Development Club: Nenagh Olympic AC
Team of the Year: Irish men’s European Race Walking Team
Service to Coaching: Hayley and Drew Harrison
Mountain Runner: Des Kennedy
Master Athlete: Mark O’Shea
Ultra Athlete: Eoin Keith
University Athlete: Phil Healy