Eamonn Coghlan is a three-time Olympian (1976, 1500m; 1980, 5000m; 1988, 5000m), a seven-time Wanamaker Mile champion, a 1983 world champion (5000m) and a 1990 NYAC Hall of Fame inductee.
Born in Dublin, Ireland on November 21st, 1952, Coghlan quickly showed his talents as a young distance runner and earned a scholarship to Villanova University, where he was coached by the legendary Jumbo Elliott, under whose guidance he won four NCAA titles. In 1975 Coghlan ran his first sub-four-minute mile, setting an Irish record of 3:56.2. One week later, he clocked 3:53.3 to break the long-standing European record held by France’s Michel Jazy.
Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, Coghlan’s prowess on the track was synonymous with the New York Athletic Club. He won the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games seven times (1977, 1979-81, 1935, 1985 and 1987) cementing his dominance of the US indoor circuit and earning the nickname “Chairman of the Boards.” He broke the world indoor mile record on three occasions, culminating in his 3:49.78 at the Brendan Byrne Arena in New Jersey in February 1983. With that mark, Coghlan became the first runner in history to run a sub-3:50 mile indoors. In 1987, he added the world indoor record at 2000m (4:57.04) to his collection. In 1994, he became the first man over 40 years of age to run a sub-four minute mile. Inevitably, he accomplished that feat indoors.
Coghlan’s 1983 sub-3:50 indoor mile was followed by a gold medal over 5000m at the inaugural outdoor World Championships, held in Helsinki, Finland. His ebullience as he overtook Russia’s Dmitriy Dmitriyev with 150m remaining was the transfixing moment of those Championships.
In two of his three Olympic appearances, Coghlan finished in fourth place: in the 1500m at the 1976 Montreal Games and in the 5000m in the 1980 Moscow Games. Injury and loss of form plagued him prior to the 1988 Games in Seoul and he was eliminated in the semi-finals.
In total, Coghlan ran 83 sub-four minute miles and is revered as one of the greatest athletes in the NYAC history. In 2011, he was appointed to the Irish Senate, in which he served until 2016.