Andrew Coscoran was all too aware that he was following in the footsteps of Irish legends when he lined up for the Wanamaker Mile in New York last February.
The iconic Millrose Games event has been won by five of his countrymen down the years.
It started with the first of Ronnie Delany's four consecutive victories in the '50s, through to the seven Eamonn Coghlan banked, the five chalked down to Marcus O'Sullivan, another two posted by Niall Bruton, and then ended with Mark Carroll's singular achievement.
The last of those 19 wins came back in the year 2000 and the absence of any additions to the roll of honour in the two decades since is just one example as to how Irish middle-distance running has faded back into the pack when compared to those glory days.
Coscoran didn't span that gap five months ago but he did post a run and a time that suggested this was a 23-year-old on track for a place at the Tokyo Olympic Games. It was a feeling compounded by the fact that it was just one among a string of impressive recent performances.
The Dubliner managed to record PBs for both the mile (3:56.85) and the 1,500m (3:37.98) in the opening months of the year before Covid-19 halted his momentum and brought the whole world to a standstill. He talks a good game too.
It's 38 years since Ray Flynn set national records for the mile (3:49.7) and 1,500m (3:33.5) at Oslo's Bislett Games and Coscoran is of the belief that this tradition should act as a magnet for improvement rather than a weight around the ankles of today's generation.
“We have that huge tradition of being great at middle distance and at the moment we're not living up to where we were once before,” said the Balbriggan man. “Ray Flynn's standard, his Irish 1,500m record, why isn't anyone getting close to it?
“We should be getting close to it. We just need to look at what they were doing and emulate it going forward, use that tradition of middle-distance running to bring ourselves back to that standard. That's what we're trying to do.”
He could curse all that lost momentum this year but that's not his take. Could he have qualified for Tokyo had the world kept turning? Absolutely, but he thinks maybe he would have been one of those guys happy to get there and hit a wall in the heats.
He'll be 25 if the Games go ahead in 2021. That bit older, wiser, and hopefully faster. Maybe he can make a semi-final or squeeze his way into the final itself. Who knows? As for now, it is Tipperary rather than Tokyo on his mind.
There has never been a sub-four-minute mile posted in the Premier County but Coscoran and some of his Dublin Track Club colleagues - Sean Tobin, Brian Fay, Hiko Tonosa, Paul Robinson - will look to change that when they run in Moyne on July 25th.
Gary Campbell is being mooted as a pacemaker.
The Irish Nationals are two weeks away and he would dearly love to add the 1,500m outdoor title to the indoor version he already holds before having a crack at the cross-country scene. There isn't a training session goes by without Coscoran thinking about Flynn's records and telling himself that he can be the man to finally break them.
Motivation won't be lacking.
- Andrew Coscoran was speaking at the launch of the Irish Life Health Mile Challenge. The week-long challenge to find out the fittest and most active club and county starts on August 17th and finishes on August 23rd when Ireland’s top athletes compete at the Irish Life Health Track and Field Championships.