Rob Heffernan revealed that he pulled out of the 50km race walk at the European Championships once he realised his gold medal chance was gone.
The current world champion bowed out of the race, which was won by France’s Yohann Diniz in a world record time of 3hrs 32 minutes 33 seconds, around the 40km mark in Zurich.
The 36-year-old told RTÉ Sport after the race: “I came in today and the only thing in the back of my head was I wanted to win it.
“I really believed I was going to win it. Even when I went into third place, it didn’t excite me, I didn’t care.
“And I tried to go and I wasn’t pulling the boys back and it just fell apart. They were too strong and then when it went away from me it was mentally very, very hard.
“[I’m] fierce disappointed, I’m extremely disappointed. Yohann broke a world record. It makes sense, he totally overpowered me today. I thought I was going to pull him back and I didn’t.
“It’s totally different to the other races where I came through. I wanted to pull the boys in early and it didn’t work. They were stronger, it’s very hard.”
"It’s totally different to the other races where I came through. I wanted to pull the boys in early and it didn’t work. They were stronger, it’s very hard” - Rob Heffernan
Heffernan admitted that the fast pace, which he had been expecting, didn’t suit him on the day.
He continued: “I was laughing at the boys: ‘Yohann – he’s doing it again, he’s gone off too hard and he’s going to blow’. And after 25, 27k, I realised he was getting stronger and when I went into third and when I wasn’t pulling him back it just fell apart for me.
“Even mentally, third, fourth, fifth, nothing appealed to me. And when the first and second were gone I didn’t want to be there and that’s very disappointing for me.
“I’ve no excuses, my training went very well, everything went well. I just got beaten.”
Asked what his immediate plans are, the Cork walker refused to be drawn.
“I don’t know, it’s never a good time to analyse things now. You have to leave things settle and I’ll go away and think,” he said.