Eamonn Christopher Coghlan (born 21 November 1952) is a 3-time Olympian and world championship winning athlete. Coghlan an Irishman was born in Drimnagh, County Dublin and later also became a naturalized United States citizen. He lived in Rye, New York for a number of years in the 1980s before returning to live in Ireland but has retained his property in Rye and still spends time there.
Coghlan’s first running club was the Celtic Athletic Club. On its break up he moved to the Metropolitan Harriers club where he won the Leinster colleges 5000m title in 1970. The fol-lowing year he won the All-Ireland 1500 metres and 5000 metres titles. In 1971 he was offered a scholarship by Villanova University. The famous running coach James ‘Jumbo’ Elliott invited Coghlan to train for the Villanova track and field team. While there he won four NCAA individual titles over 1500 meters and the mile. On 10 May 1975 Coghlan ran his first sub 4 minute mile in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania setting a new Irish record (3:56.2). One week later, on 17 May, he broke the long standing European Outdoor Mile record of Michel Jazy, in a time of 3.53.3 in Kingston, Jamaica. This record lasted until August 1976. He graduated from Villanova University, Pennsylvania, USA in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Communications.
Coghlan was nicknamed “The Chairman of the Boards” because of his success on indoor tracks. He won 52 of his 70 races at 1500m and 1 Mile from 1974 to 1987. He set the world record for the indoor mile run with a time of 3.52.6 in San Diego in 1979. He lowered this to 3:50.6 in 1981 and then bettered it to 3:49.78 in 1983 at New Jersey’s Meadowlands indoor arena. His record stood until 1997 when it was broken by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj in a time of 3:48.45. It is still the second fastest indoor mile of all time and is still, 25 years on, a European Record. Coghlan’s 1983 time was the fastest mile ever run in the United States until 10 June 2007, when Daniel Kipchirchir Komen ran 3:48.28 outdoors in Eugene, Oregon. It remains one of only four sub-3:50 miles run on American soil. By and large, Coghlan was more successful at indoor running notwithstanding a later world title in 1983 over 5000 meters.
Coghlan also set the record for the indoor 2000 meter run at 4:54.07 in 1987 which stood until Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia ran 4:52.86 in 1998. Coghlan won the world famous Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games in NYC’s Madison Square Garden a record seven times (1977, 1979-81, 1983, 1985, 1987) his last win being at the age of 34.
He won the 5000 metres at the 1983 World Championships (& remains Ireland’s only ever male World Champion gold medallist) to follow two fourth places in the Olympics (in the 1500 meters in 1976 and the 5000 meters in 1980). In the 1976 Olympics, he probably made a mistake by taking the lead at 500 metres and by not accelerating enough before the winner, John Walker, passed him at 1200 metres. Thus he lost valuable energy which he would have needed in the home straight’s struggle against Walker, Belgium’s Ivo van Damme and West Germany’s Paul-Heinz Wellman. In the 1980 Olympics 5,000 metres he probably made a mistake by sprinting to the lead at the start of the last back straight. In any case, he led the race for only a few seconds before Ethiopia’s Miruts Yifter kicked past him on the inside. By contrast, in the 1983 World Athletics Championships 5,000 metres, Coghlan was in peak shape and ran intelligently, catching the Soviet Union’s Dmitry Dmitriyev on the last back straight and sprinting past him with about 140 metres to go. He ran the last 1000 metres very fast, in 2:24.77, and won the race by 1.67 seconds, despite clearly slowing down in the final metre. He also won silver at the 1978 European Championships in Prague over 1500m, behind Steve Ovett of Great Britain, and in 1979, he competed in his only European Indoor Championships (he raced sparingly on the European indoor circuit due to his indoor commitments in the US), taking the Gold medal in the 1500m in Vienna. He missed out on the 1982 European Championships and the 1984 Olympic Games due to injury. He won the IAAF World Cup in 1981 over 5000m. Coghlan was eliminated in the 5,000-metre semifinals at the 1988 Seoul.
In total, Coghlan has run 83 sub 4 minute miles, indoor and out.
Sub 4 at 40:
In 1994, on the Harvard University indoor track, Eamonn became the first (and, as of April 2009, only) man over age 40 to run a sub-four-minute mile. He was 41 at the time.
Life after running and personal life:
Coghlan works as director of fundraising and development for Our Lady’s Hospital and is a regular panellist on Ireland’s television station RTÉ for athletics programs. He has occa-sionally coached Irish international runners such as Niall Bruton.
He and his wife, Yvonne, have four children. His youngest son, John, is one of Ireland’s leading junior athletes. His eldest son, Eamonn, is a golf professional in the United States. Whilst Michael, took a different road, appeared on TV3’s Total Xposure and is an aspiring actor. Eldest child, Suzanne, has a career in banking.
In 2008, he served as Grand Marshall for Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day parade.
Coghlan’s book “Chairman of the Boards” was released in 2008.
In May 2011, he was appointed as a Senator by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny.