Eamonn Coghlan, exulting in his Millrose Games mile victory over Filbert Bayi Friday night, looked ahead today to the next plateau of his indoor campaign to beat the best.
Coghlan, unbeaten in three indoor races, will battle John Walker of New Zealand in the Los Angeles Times meet. Bayi won't be along, however. The world 1,500-meter record holder will race in Albuquerque the next night, and his path will not cross that of Walker, the Olympic 1,500 champion, during their North American tours.
"I would like to run against John Walker," Bayi said, "but I cannot overcome my government's decision."
Tanzania, almost alone among African nations, is maintaining the sports boycott of New Zealand that prevented a confrontation of Bayi and Walker in the Olympics at Montreal.
Bayi had other problems in the race here. He was competing after a twice-interrupted journey of 48 hours from Tanzania that ended when he arrived here Thursday afternoon.
His only training this week consisted of a few minutes of basketball at the New York AC, where he and his teammates were forced to use a freight elevator because they were not wearing ties. Their luggage had disappeared during the flight.
"My legs were too heavy and my mouth was dry," Bayi said after placing third in 4:01.8. "I couldn't lift my legs. I was 100 per cent tired. If this was in my country, I would not have run, but I did no want to disappoint the people in New York."
Coghlan hung back while Bayi and Paul Cummings exchanged the lead then he kicked just before the gun and pulled away to win in 4:00.2. Wilson Waigwa of Kenya was second, sprinting too late after being bumped by Bayi while trying to pass with 200 yards left.
"To beat Filbert Bayi is a great feat," Coghlan said. "Everybody respects him as the holder of the 1,500-meter record. It's a great win for me and it's great for the people of Ireland."
At Montreal, Coghlan took the lead in the 1,500-meter final and didn't know what to do with it. He eventually wound up fourth behind Walker. He indicated Los Angeles would be a different story.
"I want to put it out of my mind." Coghlan said ot his Olympic defeat. "I want to forget it. But if I'd run in Montreal the way I did here, Walker might not have been first and me fourth. Now I see that I should have sat back and had confidence in my own leg speed."
Track buffs are looking forward to an exciting winter in the women's 440, too, after Rosalyn Bryant lowered the indoor record to 53.5 seconds here. Lorna Forde, who set the mark of 53.8 at College Park Jan. 14, opted for the 880 here and won in meet-record time of 2:06.5.
They probably will collide Feb. 13 at Montreal, but before that race Bryant has a tentative date Friday at Los Angeles with Portland's Irena Szewinska, the Olympic 400-meter champion who is scheduled to arrive in the United States next week.
Bryant, a 21-year-old senior at Cal Stat-Los Angeles, wanted the indoor record badly because of a foulup in Los Angeles Jan. 15. She was timed in 52.9 there, only to learn the track had been improperly measured and she had run only 427 yards.
"That gave me new incentive," Bryant said. "I was outside jogging down and I didn't know about it till later. First I heard the 52.9, and then I heard the race was short.
"It really kind of got me a little disappointed. It's bad. They should get those things down before they get the athletes out there.
"I felt I could set a world record before the indoor season was over, even though the race in L. A. was my first indoor 440. No, I didn't really expecte it to happen this soon."
Bryant was named outstanding performer of the meet, the first woman so honored at the Millrose Games since Stella Walsh in 1930.
When Szewinska arrives, she will be accompanied by Jacek Wszola, the Olympic high-jump champion, and that should give bronze medalist Dwight Stones some added incentive to each 7-7 indoors.
Stones won here at 7-4 1/2, then had some unkind words for officials, fellow atletes and fans, who he thought contributed to his failure at 7-5 3/4.
"People were walking around, and you'd get ready to jump and a guy would walkd in front of you," Stones complained. "People were smoking and one guy was being a turkey in the stands, yelling and all that. I guess he had one drink to many."
Kevin Byrne of Paramus Catholic (N.J.), who won the high-school mile in a Garden record 4:08, is headed for Georgetown in the fall . . . The D.C. Striders' mile-relay time of 13:13.8 erased the Madison Square Garden record of 3:14.4 set by Sports International in 1970. The Striders' next goal is the 3:11.9 mark for an 11-lap track, established by Seton Hall at College Park in 1975 . . . Steve Riddick, still unbeaten in the sprints after whipping Houston McTear here, credits his success to swallowing three bee pollen tablets a day . . . The crowd of 18,235 was the largest ever for a Garden track meet . . . Earl Bell came close to an indoor record of 18-4 after winning the pole vault with a meet-record 18-0 1/2.