Rob Heffernan was on the 'Late Late Show' with his wife Marian celebrating finally being awarded the Olympic bronze medal from London 2012 (after a Russian opponent was found guilty of doping) and his story about smuggling items from the Canary Islands into Cork ten years ago shows just how far he has come.
In the Ireland of a decade ago, the Internet was well up and running. As a result, all sorts of...eh, 'information' and 'entertainment' was available to the people of these shores. But for many people it posed a threat to the relatively old-fashioned ways. What's wrong with renting a video? Or a DVD (still fairly revolutionary at that point)? And it was to this market that Rob Heffernan, Irish Olympic bronze medallist, sought to appeal with an imaginative and resourceful plan to solve his financial worries when training in the Canary Islands.
Heffernan stumbled across some items that would be greatly appreciated on these innocent, heathen-free shores. No, not the cigarettes he would purchase (5000 of them), but the 11 (really? Only 11?) "DVDs" he tried to smuggle into and subsequently out of Shannon Airport.
You can watch the full video of his interview with Ryan Tubridy below.
Heffernan: I went to the Canaries, Ryan, back focussed. Completely driven...I had no money, scraped together, won a cheap package holiday but found a place to train. And then when I was over there, there was no tax on anything. And (I) kind of (thought) like, 'The fags are half price here, like', you know. All of my family, a lot of them smoke, a load of my friends smoke - so if I bring home cigarettes...I was working it out. So I bought 5000 cigarettes and 11 DVDs that people were interested in.
Tubs: Like what?
Heffernan: The market, like.
Tubs: Pirate films?
Heffernan: No, like. DVDs that people...there was a demand for them.
(Cue maniacal laughing from the audience)
Marian: No internet!
Heffernan: I had all of these offloaded when I came home and was going to pay for another training camp to the Canaries. This is great, I'm going to get my training done, good environment, it's sunny...cover my training camp. And I came back into Shannon and...a couple of hundred pensioners going to the Canaries for the winter and a fella arriving in a tracksuit with a skinhead and a gearbag stood out a mile so the customs pulled me in. It was like Legoland, taking the boxes out. I was just so embarrassed and Stephen and Tristian (friends) ran.
I went home completely deflated. It was just a gamble, I lost all of the merchandise I purchased.
Rob Heffernan Late Late Show appearance
— The Late Late Show (@RTELateLateShow) November 4, 2016
You'd imagine he looks back on it now with a wry smile - the memory of when it was all grind and little fame for one of Ireland's Olympic heroes.