World champion 50km walker Rob Heffernan faces a strong field in the European Championships but says he is his own toughest opponent.

The Cork man, attempting to add the European title to his stunning world success in Moscow last year, goes off at 0800 Friday morning in Zurich.

“In my head I don’t look at myself as a favourite,” he told RTÉ Sport ahead of the race.

“I’m my own opposition. I need to go out and do what I can do and if I can do that I’ve no doubt I’ll have a good result.

“If I can do what I’ve done, if I can feel that good and if I produce that form, I’ve done all the training and everything has gone well.

“Rob Heffernan needs to be on his game and if I’m on my game, fellows will find it very hard to beat me.

“If I go back and look at my last six championships, the dynamics of them, I have to perform and I think I’ve performed in all the championships since Osaka [finishing sixth in 2007]. If I went into this championship thinking I’ve a gold medal in my pocket from [the] worlds, I’d be out the back door.”

“Rob Heffernan needs to be on his game and if I’m on my game, fellows will find it very hard to beat me" - Rob Heffernan on his chances of gold in Zurich

Just last month Heffernan was awarded the bronze medal from the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona after Russia’s Stanislav Emelyanov was stripped of the gold medal due to irregularities in his biological passport.

And the 36-year-old harbours real ambitions of adding to his haul.

He added: “I wouldn’t be here unless I thought I could win another medal. I’ve never come to these things to go on a holiday. I’ve given up a lot, I’ve sacrificed a lot this year with my family, with other stuff in my life.

“I’ve trained very, very, hard, I’ve come here to race and to try and win the race. Realistically, that’s what I want to do but I still can’t control what other fellows are going to do.

“If somebody pulls a 2.32 there’s nothing I can do about that but, realistically, I dream of winning it and winning another medal.”