Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This Day in Villanova T&F History

On this day in 1985, four of Ireland’s greatest milers -- two of whom attained greatness at Villanova -- combined to set a World Record of 15:49.08 in the 4-mile relay at Dublin’s Belfield Stadium. Eamonn Coghlan, pushed by the “B” team’s John Treacy the entire way, led off in 4:00.2, followed by Marcus O’Sullivan (3:55.3), Frank O’Mara(3:56.6), and Ray Flynn(3:57.0). The previous mark of 15:59.57 was set by a John Walker-led New Zealand team in 1983. No foursome has been able to best this 1985 mark in the intervening 25 years.
The reluctant foursome had to be coaxed by Irish journalist John O’Shea, the founder of the international humanitarian agency GOAL, into competing in the fund-raising event. O’Sullivan, O’Mara, and Flynn were in the middle of the European track season, and Coghlan was still recovering from an injury. In fact, Coghlan, as well as his three eventual teammates, didn’t think the record was possible with him on the team, since he was far from being in top shape.
"I know even I was pushing not to have Coghlan on the team," said Flynn. "A week or so before we'd raced together in a road mile over in Minneapolis, and Eamonn had run 4:22. So he was really in bad shape. Terrible shape. The other guys mightn't admit to it, but we were all trying to push him off our team. We just didn't think we'd break the record with him on board.
"But Eamonn was such a competitor that he was able to produce that mile almost naturally, even in his worst possible condition, helped by the fact that John Treacy was on the B-team and chasing him down. Now I'm so happy that he was part of it, and gave the whole thing so much more credibility."

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