Brendan Boyce: Donegal race walker will 'hunt' Tokyo medal after Doha sixth spot

Brendan Boyce is set to compete in his third Olympics next year
Brendan Boyce battled brutally hot conditions in Doha to finish in sixth place in the 50km walk

Donegal race walker Brendan Boyce says he will "go hunting an Olympic medal" next year after his career-best sixth place in the 50km event at the recent World Championships.

Boyce, 33, was thrilled by his performance in Doha and moonwalked over the finishing line in celebration.

"I decided with maybe 50 metres to go, 'I'll have to do something' so the moonwalk popped out," said Boyce.

"It got a bit of exposure anyway so it was good.

"I definitely didn't plan any celebrations. Most of the time when I finish, I'm getting shoved into a wheelchair or dragged off the course."

Speaking in a BBC Radio Foyle interview, the Milford man says his Doha display gives him belief that he can be a contender when he competes in his third Olympics in Tokyo.

"I was looking at the names of the [Irish] athletes who have come sixth or higher in previous world championships and you were thinking, 'is that really me as well?'.

"Maybe only 10 other Irish athletes have achieved a position like that at a world championships. It gives me huge confidence to know I'm at that level and that I can be a contender.

"My last big result was 19th in [the] Rio [Olympics]. There is a big gap between 19th and sixth.

"The gap between sixth and the medals isn't quite that big and I think if we make another couple of adjustments next season, we can close the gap and go hunting for medals in Tokyo."

Honeymoon delayed by preparations for Doha

After his remarkable performance in the searing Doha heat, Boyce and wife Sarah headed on a honeymoon delayed since their wedding in June.

The Donegal man's training requirements meant for a somewhat unusual start to married life sleeping arrangements.

"I was heading into my altitude tent and she was going into the bedroom.

"I was then gone for almost six weeks before the world championships getting the preparations done so we waiting for the honeymoon for four months."

But following a relaxing three weeks in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, Boyce is now back home in Cork where, guided by coach and 2013 world champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Rob Heffernan, he is already focusing on his preparations for next summer in Japan.

"I've been involved with Rob since 2013. That's the season he won the World Championships. I've seen the training that it takes at that level and when we did the training this year, I was confident that's what we needed to do to get a result like Doha.

Rob Heffernan (left) and Brendan Boyce after the 2016 Olympic 50km walk in Rio
Boyce (right) and Rob Heffernan were Olympic team-mates in 2016 and the 2013 world champion now coaches the Donegal race walker

'Rob knows what it takes'

"Rob knows what it takes from being an athlete. He's able to explain everything properly and make sure the preparation is right for me.

"The biggest change now is that the training is about me now instead of me doing his training which would have been the way two or three years ago. It's nice to be the focus of attention now as well."

Boyce's world championship sixth place will see him secure additional funding for 2020 which should aid his preparations.

"Until you get that result there is always a bit of doubt that you can achieve at that level.

"Sixth place going into Tokyo definitely improves your mindset. It will help as well with funding and I will be able to prepare better.

"I would have said even going into Rio that Tokyo was always the bigger goal.

"Rob was 35 when he won the world championships and the mid-30s is when you should be challenging for your top results. The Portuguese fellow [Joao Vieira] who was second at the worlds was 43."

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