SI Vault
Joe Marshall
February 07, 1977
Eamonn Coghlan ran away with the Millrose Games mile while Niall O'Shaughnessy nearly nailed the indoor record in Missouri
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February 07, 1977

When Irish Guys Are Miling

Eamonn Coghlan ran away with the Millrose Games mile while Niall O'Shaughnessy nearly nailed the indoor record in Missouri

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Eventually it was discovered that Bayi's flight had been grounded in Nairobi in a dispute over airline taxes between Tanzania and Kenya. Speculation arose that the earliest he could get to New York was the following week. Yet 24 hours later Bayi arrived at JFK on a flight from Cologne. He had been traveling for 52 hours. "I'm all exhausted," Bayi said, and with the race just 30 hours away he hastened to add, "Tomorrow I will run only because I am invited. If they told me I don't run, I would say. Thank you very much.' "

Bayi also confessed that he had been on holiday from September until December and that he had been training for just a month. "I am only in 75% of my shape," he said. But Bayi's opponents spoke of him as the man to beat. "I'll be running from the front, unless Bayi goes out at a good pace," said Cummings the night before the race. "Then I'll follow him."

"Every time I have run against Bayi or Cummings they have taken out the race," said Coghlan, "and if they don't here, somebody else will, but it won't be me. The whole point for me is being smart enough to kick at the right time."

Coghlan graduated from Villanova last spring and moved back to his native Dublin but had returned to the U.S. for part of the indoor season because he couldn't find the same level of competition in Ireland. Traveling hasn't suited him much better than Bayi. "I have had something bugging my right hip," he said the morning of the meet. "A nerve is numbing the leg. Right now in workouts I can just jog. I forget about it in a race but in training it bothers me a lot."

As Coghlan expected, Cummings and Bayi bolted to the front. Cummings held the lead through the first half mile, which he passed in 1:59.9. After Coghlan overtook Bayi with five laps to go, Bayi suddenly sprinted to the front. With 2� laps remaining, Cummings once more took the lead, Bayi was a close second and Coghlan third. That's the way it stood just before the gun lap when Coghlan's face suddenly lit up in a savage smile. "I knew Filbert was very tired," he said later, "because when he took the lead he tried to slow it down. When Cummings made his move, he was trying to get away from the field. But I was staying with Paul. I felt well within myself and I knew I had my kick left." Just before the gun sounded for the last lap Coghlan kicked past Cummings and began to put some distance between himself and the field. He held off a fast-finishing Waigwa to win in 4:00.2. Bayi was third and Liquori fourth while Cummings faded to fifth.

"My mouth felt dry, my legs were heavy, my head was heavy," said Bayi, who ran a 4:01.8. "I think being third is fantastic. I wanted to stop but if I did many people would have been disappointed. People came here to see Bayi."

While running from the front proved an unfortunate tactic in the mile, getting in front nearly proved impossible for Steve Riddick, who was left in the blocks in the 60-yard dash. He didn't catch the field until two-thirds of the race was done, but then he accelerated powerfully, raising a clenched right fist in victory when he was still five yards short of the finish line. Preston, McTear and Glance finished behind him in that order, all one-tenth of a second off the winning time of 6.0. Quarrie was last.

Riddick has been proclaiming himself the world's fastest human in recent weeks, and he admitted afterward that the clenched fist was his way of getting rid of the frustration he has felt at seeing his undefeated record this indoor season belittled as a matter of luck or accident. He says there are two reasons for his success. The first is increased work on his start, but because that certainly wasn't a visible factor in the dash final, perhaps more emphasis should be placed on the second, which is bee pollen. The stuff comes in pill form from England. At the Millrose Games Riddick even wore a T shirt proclaiming, "Bee Power—Bee Pollen from England." Lest this convince you that Riddick is a health nut, be advised that he admits having trouble running his favorite race, the 200 meters, because he smokes and he can feel the effects of that habit in the stretch.

Dwight Stones failed to measure up to his promise of a world record, but he and Tom Woods did establish a new Millrose mark of 7'4�" Stones won by virtue of reaching that height with fewer tries, but he wasn't pleased with his performance. "It's the first time I've ever had trouble with my approach in the Garden," he said, "but if I can line drive 7'4�", well, watch out."

For various reasons which he outlined over lunch the day of the meet. Stones had thought he couldn't possibly fail in the Millrose high jump. He had had an almost perfect week of training which had included weight lifting in Toronto, swimming in Philadelphia "to help stimulate both cerebral hemispheres in my brain," and a visit to his physiologist in Atlanta. "Most men have 18% body fat," he said. "Four days before my first 7'7" jump [last June] I had 6.2%. Now I've got that down to 5.7%."

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