Rob Heffernan has left the door open for a crack at the European Championships in Berlin next summer.

The 39-year-old race walker was yesterday named Athlete of the Year at the Irish Life Health National Athletics Awards.

He finished eight in the 50km Race Walk at the World Championships in London, a terrific performance that looked as if it would prove to be the Corkman's swansong.

However Heffernan, who won bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games and gold at the Worlds 12 months later, insisted the fire still burns within to compete at the very top, and he fancies his chances of challenging for the podium.

"I always said once I wasn't going to able to be competitive and compete at the top that I'd never ever want  to be a journeyman because I have the medals, but if I decide to go back fully into it in March, April time, there's no reason why I can't win a medal in Berlin," he said.

"I don't think it's the physical capability that goes; it's that real desire and that animalistic drive you need to have to win a medal.

"I maybe feel a bit tired mentally from it but physically I was in great shape last year, as good a shape as I've ever been in, so we'll see."