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25 Nov 2011 - Olympics would fulfil a lifelong ambition

Marian Heffernan: Like her husband Robert, Marian Heffernan is back in training too, with her focus also on the Olympics.


It mightn’t necessarily always be fun to be clocking up the miles but it’s worth it in the end, and Marian’s current timetable means that she’s ahead of schedule compared to other years.


“Last week was a hard week, this week is focusing on fitness,” she says.


“Last year, for instance, I wouldn’t have been at this stage until around the middle of December so it’s good to be ahead in that regard.


“Because of the way we worked it, I took September off and then Rob was off in October, we had one week where we were both off together.


It was important to make the most of that!”


Marian will be travelling to Australia with Rob in two weeks’ time to get some more vital miles under her belt as she looks to be in top shape for the 4x400m relay. With son Cathal in tow too, there are logistical considerations to be looked after too.


“It’s looking we might enrol Cathal in school for a short while over there,” she says.


“It would take a bit of pressure off, even just that he wouldn’t be missing school for seven weeks.


“It’s coming up to their summer holidays, so they wouldn’t be doing anything too strenuous anyway. It might be difficult to get them to teach him Irish though!”


The seven-week sojourn in Australia means that the Heffernans will be spending Christmas away from Cork for the second year in a row. It’s not ideal, but with the focus on London, all opportunities must be availed of.


“My brother is living over there we’ll spend Christmas with him, with is what we did last year,” Marian says.


“It is kind of strange, you’re so far removed from everybody else. Last year, for instance, we had my mother on the phone telling us about the big freeze but you can’t comprehend it when you’re not there.


“You get home then and you get to February or March and you think, ‘We missed out on Christmas at home’, but it’s still a good experience and, most importantly, it sets us up massively for the year ahead.”


While Ireland’s entry into the 400m relay is not fully rubber-stamped, things are looking good at the moment, as Marian explains.


“What they do is they take an average of the top two times, so the way the results are standing now, we are in.


“Our starting attempt was fairly average and then we really improved on that with a strong time, so if we could post another good time, even improve by a second or two, it would make a huge difference. “There are three big races in 2012 so the hope is that we can post a good time in one of those, because our best time is one that will be tough to beat.”


Obviously, competing in the Olympics would fulfil a lifelong ambition, which is why Marian doesn’t want to think about it too much, in case something goes wrong. But, to fine-tune preparations, she has to think about.


“It would be brilliant,” she says, “but at the same time you don’t want to think too much about it in case you jinx it.


“Before Beijing we were ranked 17th with 16 teams to qualify and all of a sudden Athletics Ireland said that they weren’t going to put us forward for another attempt.


“It’s in my thoughts, obviously, when I’m training and I think that we’re definitely going to be there, but still saying it out loud is kind of weird!”