Coghlan gradually returned to full training, with the born runner's gratitude. "Every day I have loved my running," he says. "When I won the Sunkist mile in January in 3:55.4 with a strong finish, I knew I was back."
In January Coghlan's father, William, came over from Dublin to visit Eamonn at his Rye, N.Y. home for a couple of weeks. The elder Coghlan, a vital, immensely likable man, was for years the president of the Irish Amateur Athletic Federation. On Super Bowl weekend, William went to a party with Eamonn and his wife, Yvonne, and both father and son contracted indigestion from Mexican food. "Monday he timed my workout at Manhattan College," recalls Eamonn. "It was the first time in his life he had done that."
On Monday night, Coghlan left his father watching TV with Yvonne and went to bed early. In the morning, departing for his usual five-mile run, he sent his daughter, Suzanne, to check her grandfather's bedroom. She returned, saying, "He's fast asleep."
"Normally he's the first one up," says Eamonn. "When I got back from my run, he still was in bed. Then I sensed something was wrong. I went up to him. He did look like he was having a pleasant sleep. There was a gentle smile on his face. When I touched him I knew he was dead."
Eamonn had come west across the Atlantic for Elliott's funeral and crossed to Ireland for Farnan's. Now he had to take the body of his father, who had died of a heart attack, home. "My tunnel vision, my concentration on running was shattered," he says. "I felt I had to explain somehow why he had died while with me. I felt guilty, as though if I hadn't taken him away to the States, he'd still be here. My mother said, 'This is the way he would want to go, having seen you back running well.' That was true. And it had been my father who helped me accept Gerry Farnan's loss, saying what a great good fortune it was to have such a friend for so long. That helped me in turn to accept his own going, even though he was so alive he was the last one you'd expect. Once over the initial grief, I felt if I could get through one hard race with the feel of the boards under my feet, the hungry attitude would come back."
Coghlan had expected that occasion to be the U.S. Olympic Invitational in New Jersey two weeks ago, but when it was postponed because of a snowstorm, he had to wait for San Diego.
Scott took over from Woods with 350 yards to go. Coghlan reacted at once, and they shot away from the field. "I knew it would be hard to get around him," said Coghlan later. "I respect him as much as I do Coe, off what he did last year. So I used the curve—going high and sprinting down the straight—with one lap left and really went."
He blasted past powerfully, shocking Scott, and built his margin to 12 yards at the finish. His time was 3:53.1, so his last 440 was about 53.8. Scott ran 3:54.5. Past the line, Coghlan pressed his hands to his head "in amazement. To win like that, against Steve, after a year away, is worth a world record."
There were records set at this traditionally strong meet, but none was accompanied by the depth of emotion that Coghlan lent to his performance. Indeed, Evelyn Ashford, who cut her 50-yard world record to 5.74 from the 5.77 she set a month ago, seemed almost blasé. "I'm stronger, so my start is better, so the records keep coming," she said. "But I mostly came out here for the Grand Prix points." To which, at the end of the season, Mobil will affix a financial reward.
Doug Padilla came from Provo, Utah to go after his own U.S. indoor two-mile record. Last year he had been 4:11 at the mile and blazed home in 8:16.8. This time the mile was a 4:10, but the fast start had tired him. With a quarter left, he needed a 58.4. He produced a 58.1, for a clocking of 8:16.5. He'd clearly given everything. "I guess I'm not quite where I was hoping I was," he said wanly, but these achievements are astonishing for one who trains so little. "Thirty miles a week," he said. "Mondays are relaxed, recovering from weekend races, and by Wednesday I'm already cutting down."