World Championships 2015: Ireland's Heffernan fifth in walk

Robert Heffernan of Ireland
Robert Heffernan was 50k world champion in 2013

Defending champion Robert Heffernan of Ireland had to settle for fifth place in the 50 kilometres race walk at the World Athletics Championships.

Slovakia's Matej Toth made an early break to take the gold medal in a time of 3.40.32 in Beijing on Saturday.

Heffernan, who won the event in Moscow two years ago, helped lead the chasing pack for a spell, but they failed to close down the Slovakian.

Australia's Jared Tallent was second, with Takayuki Tanii of Japan in third.

Ireland's Brendan Boyce was disqualified in the closing stages while Alex Wright was forced to retire injured.

Despite surrendering his crown, Cork man Heffernan, 37, was pleased with his performance, after finishing in 3:44:17.

"Considering all of the problems I have had this year, it is as good as winning in Moscow. It is very positive," he said.

Meanwhile, Ireland's 4x400m relay team set a national record of 3:01.26 in finishing eighth in a quick semi-final.

The new mark, set by Brian Gregan, Brian Murphy, Thomas Barr and Mark English, was 0.41 seconds inside the record set at last year's European Championships in Zurich.

Brian Murphy, Thomas Barr, Mark English and Brian Gregan set an Irish record in the 4x400m relay
Brian Murphy, Thomas Barr, Mark English and Brian Gregan set an Irish record in the 4x400m relay

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