At last Smith was up and running, but in eighth. Edwin Moses brought the U.S. home in sixth. The U.S.S.R. won in 3:00.79. "It's like a war zone out there," said Moses.
It wasn't all hell for Edwin, though. Five days earlier he had been one of the blessed ones, ripping majestically through the 400-meter hurdles in 47.50, winning over West Germany's Harald Schmid by 10 yards, extending his streak of victories to 81 since Schmid beat him six years ago.
Then Moses, an outspoken opponent of drug use, was subjected to his first urinalysis. "I was dry. As you know they need more than a little. Took me five beers to get out of there." Tipsy, Moses was gentle and warm, cheerfully signing autographs late into the night for Finns who were far more inebriated. They asked about his left shoelace, which had come loose over the last few hurdles.
"Adidas just makes long laces," he said. "But they would have had to be nine feet long to trip me up."
That tone, of the merriment to be found in these demanding disciplines, was taken up by Ireland's Eamonn Coghlan in the 5,000 meters. Coghlan, fourth in the 1,500 in the 1976 Olympics and fourth in the 5,000 in Moscow, had expected the race to be a brutal test, in which those fearing his redoubtable kick would seek to run it out of him.
"But they didn't," he said afterward in astonishment. "They played right into my hand until it was too late." That meant a slow pace, with little surging. With a mile to go he felt as if he had not even run. "I decided to savor every moment of the last four laps."
He withstood a long drive the U.S.S.R.'s Dmitriy Dmitriyev began from 800 meters out, and moved up beside the Soviet with 150 meters to run. Savor was the word. Before he even began his kick, he gestured with his fists that it was all over, that it was too easy. Then he blew on home in 13:28.53. His last 1,200 was run in the hard mile pace of 2:57.5.
It was Coghlan's biggest win in outdoor competition, certifying him as the complete tactical racer. His fundamental regret was that his father, William, past president of the Irish Amateur Athletic Association, who might even have had the chance to award his son this gold medal, had died in the winter.
And in that he had a bond with the meet's most emotional winner. Thirty-four-year-old, 201-pound Helena Fibingerova of Czechoslovakia was once the world-record holder in the women's shotput but had never won a major international meet. "During the first days of July my father died after a long illness," she said. It had been cancer. "I loved him very much. I was terribly upset, but I decided to put aside my sorrow and concentrate on the World Championships."
The shotput finals were on Friday, the day of rain. After five of the six rounds, Fibingerova was in fourth. "Just before my last put I said to myself, this is the put for my father, and the 'put for my mother, who has suffered a terrible loss."