Hefferman won the gold medal in the 50km racewalking event, which took him through the streets of Moscow, into the Luzhniki Stadium. This makes him the third Irish athlete to win gold at the World Championships.
The 35 year old has been dedicated to his sport since he was 14, and even though he trains twice a day, everyday championship medals have alluded him.
‘I knew I was motivated. People go on about medals, for the last 11 years I’ve been motivated and challenging for a medal. For some reason or other I hadn’t won one’
This culminated last year at the London Olympics when he came fourth – just missing out on an Olympic medal. But Heffernan is certainly a fighter, believing that ‘you have to take the bad and the good’.
‘I was prepared for everything coming into [the 2013 World Athletics Championship]. I stayed thoroughly motivated this year after London when a lot of people take their foot off the gas.
‘I was very conscious of training hard and i had to be more motivated, because there was less hype for the World Champs. I was prepared for that mentally’
Heffernan kept a steady pace throughout the race. Racewalking has very strict rules and athletes must always keep in contact with the ground. Their supporting leg must remain straight until the raised leg passes it, making it difficult to increase speed in the race. But Hefferman beat all other opponents to the finish line by over a minute, with a time of 3 hours 37 minutes 56 seconds.
‘It’s surreal,’ the gold medal winner explained, ‘it’s just a great feeling. When I came into the stadium it just felt like an out-of-body experience. It’s hard to take it all in at the moment. I’m delighted.’
His wife has been a constant source of support for Heffernan, telling him to ‘go for it’ just before the race:
‘The aim for this year was that he’d get a result here and the fact that he has come back and got the gold is just phenomenal’
Now Heffernan has his eyes set on the Olympics once again and is planning to go to Rio in 2016.