31 AUG 1999 General News

After Sevilla 99 -Fireworks to come in Brussels, Berlin and Munich

After Sevilla 99Marion Jones won't be part of the fireworks to come in Brussels, Berlin and Munich

Injured 100m world champion Marion Jones (USA) who is still suffering from back spasms will not compete again this season, her agent said earlier today. "Her season is over," Charlie Wells said in a telephone interview from Brussels where Jones was scheduled to compete on Friday. "She continues to improve, but she is not well enough to compete."

The 23-year-old Jones had collapsed on the track in the 200m semi-finals at Seville's World Championships last week, suffering from cramps and back spasms. She had returned to the United States on Saturday for further evaluation by doctors who recommended she did not compete again, Wells said. "It's unfortunate, and we know her many fans will be disappointed, but it was not worth the risk," Wells explained.

The decision to end the season early will cost Marion Jones more than $1 million considering she was still in the lead for a share of the IAAF Golden League Jackpot and the IAAF Overall Grand Prix award. But Wells said: "This is not about money. We want to look after her best welfare and the big picture."

Excitement continues nevertheless with the IAAF Golden League and Grand Prix approaching their climaxes. Seville’s Estadio Olimpico was the magnificent backdrop for 9 days of athletics drama, nine days of tears of joy and of disappointment. The joy of the winners and the anguish of those who failed to achieve their goals. Now the time has come for the winners to attempt to reassert their dominion in the stadiums of Brussels, Berlin and Munich and for those less successful in Seville to make their mark before the outdoor track season reaches its close.

The situation at the head of the IAAF Grand Prix standings is extremely close, with just three points separating the top three athletes in the men’s overall standings: 1 Beckford James JAM 77pts.; 2 Ngeny Noah KEN 76 pts.; 3 Tarasov Maksim RUS 74.5; and five points separating the leading four contenders in the women’s overall standings: 1 Mutola Maria Lurdes MOZ 77 pts.; 2 Jones Marion USA 76 pts.; 3 Hemmings Deon JAM 72 pts.; 3 Iagar-Dinescu Monica ROM 72 pts.

After Marion Jones' withdrawal and with two meetings to go in the IAAF Golden League – Brussels on 3 September and Munich on 7 September, just two athletes remain in contention for the million dollar IAAF Golden League Jackpot: Gabriela Szabo (ROM) 5000m and Wilson Kipketer (DEN) 800m. The other athlete who was still in contention, Kenya’s Bernard Barmasai, was declared ineligible for the jackpot by the IAAF Council following certain remarks he has made after the last leg of the IAAF Golden League in Zurich, which it was felt brought the sport into disrepute.

Gabriela Szabo has performed amazingly well all season. The question now is whether she will be able to continue to withstand the repeated attacks of Morocco’s Zahra Ouaziz and other; possibly less convincing opponents like Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe, who took silver in the 10,000m in Seville. Szabo herself has said that she is tired – but then again, so is everybody else and nobody appears to be able to resist the wiry little Romanian’s incredible final sprint.

Wilson Kipketer is another amazing athlete, whose performances this year – including his third title in the 800m in Seville - are all the more incredible considering the terrible attack of malaria he suffered last year and the consequent liver problems that followed. This year Kipketer has shown all of the talent that gave him indoor and outdoor World Championships Golds in 1997 and the corresponding world records for the two-lapper. But the finish in the Seville final was far from being a crushing victory for the young Danish engineer, who dipped across the line just 2 hundredths of a second ahead of silver medallist Hezekiel Sepeng of South Africa.

Be prepared for fireworks ahead, with the greatest show to come in Munich’s magnificent Olympic Stadium on 11 September, where all of the season’s leaders will compete for the title of overall Grand Prix winner and the $200,000 prize that goes with the title. In all, over $3.3 million dollars in prize money will be distributed at the IAAF Grand Prix Final, with the overall winners receiving from the $200,000 mentioned for first place, through $100,000 for second place to $10,000 for eighth place. Individual Grand Prix event winners will receive first place awards of $50,000, down to $5,000 for the eighth placed competitor.