18 SEP 2003 General News Moscow

Million Dollars up for grabs in Moscow Challenge

Tim Montgomery and Kim Collins in the men's 100m semi final (Getty Images)Tim Montgomery and Kim Collins in the men's 100m semi final (Getty Images) © Copyright

The focal point of the Challenge, to be staged in the Luzhniki Stadium on Saturday, 20 September is the historic 1 Million Dollar 100m race.

100m  World Champion Kim Collins and his peers will get  a chance to win $500,000 for the first place in Moscow, with another $500,000 to be distributed to the other participants of this race.

In other events (men’s 800,1500 m, triple jump, women’s 100, 800 m, high jump, long jump) - the winners will get about $75 000 .

The organizers of the Moscow Challenge have declared that it will be a unique athletics competition to demonstrate that Moscow has the resources to produce a world class meeting with the participation of the leading athletes from all over the world.

The Challenge is scheduled to last three hours and after each award ceremony there will be a show with the participation of the leading Russian pop stars - the organizers say that they are already negotiating with the agents of Madonna and Michael Jackson about a possible participation in next year’s Moscow Challenge.

Among the athletes who are invited to Moscow are Tim Montgomery, Dwain Chambers, Yuriy Borzakovskiy, Andre Bucher, Mbulaeny Mulaudzi, Hicham El Guerrouj, Ivan Heshko, Paul Korir, Christian Olsson, Leevan Sands, Kelly White, Zhanna Block, Chandra Sturrap, Maria Mutola, Amina Ait Hammou, Marina Kuptsova, Kajsa Bergqvist, Vita Palamar, Eunice Barber and Tatyana Kotova.

The influential political leader, Mayor of Moscow Yuriy Luzhkov has promised to provide good weather over the Luzhniki arena. If rain threatens planes will be sent up to disperse the clouds and open the blue sky. Luzhkov wants to make the Moscow Challenge a first step in support of Moscow’s bid to host the Olympic Games in 2012.

Huge resources – more then 4 millions dollars are invested in the competition.

But some Russian athletes criticize the decision of the organizers of the Moscow Challenge to give such huge prize money to an event without Russian participants –the men’s 100 m. But it was explained that this was done to get more international publicity and status for the Moscow Olympic bid.

“We are trying to attract people’s attention to athletics by also bringing in popular musicians and now we have less then 10 % of unsold tickets. It is a pity that because of technical difficulties we could not to include in the program Pole Vault, but next year we shall have enough potential to stage a Pole Vault too.

This year will be an experimental competition under the supervision of the IAAF. It is a big problem that in Russia athletics is not so popular as in other European countries, we must to show it by the best way to the public,” says the president of the Sportima company organizing the Challenge, Dmitriy Chernyshenko.

The price of the cheapest tickets is 300 rubles (1 $ is about 30,70 rubles) and the price of VIP tickets is 9,000 rubles. 55,000 spectators are expected to enjoy the competition.