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Coghlan Wins Wanamaker Mile for a Record 7th Time

January 31, 1987|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Eamonn Coghlan took the lead with about a half-lap remaining and raced to a record seventh victory in the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden Friday night.

The 34-year-old Coghlan, who only last month was attacked by a dog in Dublin, Ireland, and suffered five leg bites and a broken bone in his left hand, again showed no ill effects from the injuries as he won his second mile in two races this season.

Biding his time before making his decisive move on the 11-laps-to-the-mile track, Coghlan swept past 1986 Wanamaker Mile winner and fellow Irishman Marcus O'Sullivan on the final backstretch and raced across the finish line in 3 minutes 55.91 seconds.

Coghlan, holder of the world indoor best of 3:49.78, had shared the record for most Wanamaker Mile victories of six with the great Glenn Cunningham, the winner from 1933-35 and 1937-39.

This was the 10th anniversary of Coghlan's first Wanamaker Mile triumph, and he celebrated in style, showing the powerful finish that had carried him to victories in 1977, 1979-81, 1983 and 1985.

O'Sullivan, who was unbeaten during the 1986 indoor season in nine races, including seven miles or metric miles (1,500 meters), held on for second place in 3:56.48.

Spain's Jose Abascal was third in 3:56.90, and Ray Flynn, another Irishman, finished fourth in 3:57.27, as half of the eight-man field went under four minutes.

One who did not was Britain's Steve Ovett, the 1980 Olympic 800-meter gold medalist and 1,500-meter bronze medalist. In his first indoor race since 1976 and his first indoor appearance in the United States, Ovett lagged at the back of the pack the entire race and never was a factor, finishing last in 4:14.52.

Earlier, Greg Foster scored his second straight victory over archrival Renaldo Nehemiah, winning the men's 60-yard high hurdles with a late burst, and Lee McRae easily beat Carl Lewis in the 60-yard dash.

Foster, ranked No. 1 in the world in the 110-meter high hurdles--a spot that Nehemiah had occupied before leaving track in 1982 for the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL--was clocked in 6.98 seconds in winning the event for the fourth time in five years and the fifth time overall.

It was only the seventh victory for Foster in 36 meetings against Nehemiah indoors and outdoors--including one dead-heat--since their first confrontation in 1978. The two had met for the first time this year two weeks ago at Los Angeles--where Nehemiah made his first indoor appearance in five years--and Foster won handily over 60 meters in 7.36. Nehemiah finished third.

This time, the race was close until the final hurdle, when Foster took command.

Nehemiah finished second in 7.02, and was followed by NCAA champion Keith Talley of Alabama and 1986 winner Mark McKoy of Canada, both timed in 7.08. Roger Kingdom, the 1984 Olympic champion, finished sixth and last in 7.28.

Afterward, Foster virtually dismissed his rivalry with Nehemiah.

"I'm out there watching myself and myself only," Foster said. "I'm the only one running as far as I'm concerned.

"Long ago, I worried about the competition," he added. "Now, I'm just worried about winning and losing. When I worry about beating someone, I lose something.

"As far as the rivalry is concerned, I think it's good for the sport. It brings out the crowd and makes it a quality race."

Foster also said he "ran a terrible race," because he was bothered by stomach cramps.

Nehemiah said: "I did everything to lose. I lost sight of everything I had to do.

"I ran in everybody else's lane," he continued. "I had a lot of power and speed but no control."

In the men's dash, McRae, of the University of Pittsburgh and holder of the world indoor best of 6.00, was out of the blocks first and never relinquished the lead, clocking 6.12.

Lewis, holder of the world indoor best until McRae broke it last year, never seriously challenged and finished second in 6.14.

Among those who were beaten in the heats and failed to make the six-man final in the men's 60 were Calvin Smith, the world outdoor record-holder at 100 meters, and two-time Olympian Harvey Glance.

Evelyn Ashford and Jeanette Bolden, who share the world indoor best in the women's 60, also failed to make the final, won for the second straight year by Gwen Torrence of the University of Georgia in 6.63.

Ashford, the world record-holder in the women's 100, never has won a Millrose sprint--one of the few titles that has eluded her during her illustrious career.

She placed fourth in her heat, while Bolden was fifth.

Torrence, the NCAA champion, edged Nellie Fiere-Cooman of the Netherlands, the European indoor champion, by one-hundredth of a second with a lunge at the tape.

The women's 60-yard hurdles final also was missing two of its top entrants--Stephanie Hightower-Leftwich and Candy Young, who had set a world indoor best of 7.37 in finishing in a dead-heat in this meet in 1982.

Both failed to get out of the heats, Hightower-Leftwich, a five-time Millrose winner, placing fourth in her heat, and Young, a former NCAA champion, finishing sixth.

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