From the first time that children race in competition, they hear coaches shouting at them to run through the tape. Still, even the best occasionally find themselves unable to resist the temptation to show off, and preparations to salute crowds and cameras consume precious tenths of seconds.
Eamonn Coghlan of Ireland, second-ranked among the world's 1,500-meter men and winner of 22 of his last 23 indoor miles, is a 26-year-old Villanova graduate with a wealth of expeience that includes a fourth-place finish in the Olympic 1,500 at Montreal.
So Friday noght in the Millrose Games he threw up his arms and coasted dramatically through the tape. It cost him the world indoor record.
Coghlan was clocked in 3:55.0, one-tenth of a second above the indoor mark Dick Buerkle set in College Park a year ago. That flair at the finish, plus three glances behind for a view of John Walker, were enough to place him an equal second with Tony Waldrop, instead of No. 1 in the record book.
Coghlan deserved much praise, for in winning the Wanamaker Mile he Wilson Waigwa of Kenya, Sydney Maree of South Africa, Olympic champion Walker and the No. 1 American, Steve Scott. Buerkle and Paul Cummings, who led for three-quarters before Coghlan steamed ahead, were farther back.
Coming so close to a world record and litting it get away removed much of the pleasure, however.
"I'm disappointed," Coghlan said. "It would have been a lot sweeter if it was two-tenths of a second faster. I remember hesitating or slowing it up with five yards to go, and I don't know why. I just did it. I usually run right through.
"I felt tremendous when I looked up and saw 3:54.7. That's what I came over here to do. I'm running for records."
The 3:54.7 on the scoreboard was unofficial and the basis for another scoreboard pronouncement of "world indoor record" that fooled Coghlan and the sellout crowd of 18,301. Of course, they might have been forewarned about the accuracy of scoreboard announcements when Coghlan's name was emblazoned in huge letters as "Coughlin."
While Coghlan was running for a record, Walker was running just to get in shape. He doesn't like the boards, but he needs the work.
"Bolldy boards," Walker said. "I tried to lift and I couldn't. Bouncing off the bloody boards tied my legs up something shocking."
Although the field in 1,000-yard run contained many of the world's leading challengers to No. 1 man Steve Ovett of Great Britain, Ovett's principal threat for Moscow might have been running earlier, in a highly publicized race that lieved up to all the advance notices.
Villanova junior Don Paige outfought another Villanova grad, Mark Belger, in their first major indoor confrontation. Paige's time of 2:05.3 was a world best for an 11-laps-to-the-mile track and came within two-tents of the recore Mark Winzenried established on the eight-lap oval at Louisville in 1972.
Maryland's Renaldo Nehemiah, going all out for a sixth straight world record in a major indoor race, was stymied by a false start. The second time, he clocked 6.90, just one-hundredth off his revised world record... Villanova's mile and two-mile teams won the major relay titles. Georgetown placed third in the two-mile event, after leading until the last two laps... Fred Sowerby ran away from nemesis Stan Vinson to win the 600 in 1:10.4, then turned in a big third leg as D.C. International took the club mile relay in 3:14.0... Howard's Mike Archie upset Bison grad Richard Massey and veteran Maurice Peoples in a 500-yard section. The overall winner in another surprise was Mike Solomon in 56.9.