ÅF Golden League logo (IAAF.org) © Copyright
NOTE: As with all competitions there are likely to be changes to the start list in the final days before this year’s ÅF Golden League commences at the DKB-ISTAF Berlin meeting on Sunday 14 June, and therefore these event category previews are correct as of information available at the time of publication.
Women’s Pole Vault
The conventional wisdom is quite clear: at least a share of the Jackpot is Yelena Isinbayeva’s to lose. The superlatives of the Russian superstar, who shared the $1 million prize with Sanya Richards in 2007, are quite well known: twice Olympic champion, two-time World champion, three-time World indoor champion, reigning European champion, and 26 World records to her credit. Undefeated in 2007, she lost only once indoors last year, and brings a 14 meet win streak to the German capital. Her record in Golden League competition is nearly unparalleled: her only loss in the series came way back in 2001, when, still a teenager, she finished second at Rome’s Golden Gala.
Berlin will mark the 2009 outdoor debut for last year’s World Athlete of the Year. Last year she opened her season at Rome’s ÅF Golden League fixture, with a 5.03m World record, her first of three last summer. It’s a near certainty that she’ll at least attempt to raise her current standard of 5.05m.
Leading the chase pack is Brazil’s Fabiana Murer, fresh off another South American record. The 28-year-old upped her own mark to 4.82m at the national championships last weekend. Russian Yulia Golubchikova, the European indoor champion, and Poles Monika Pyrek and Anna Rogowska are also in the field. Local attention will focus on Silke Spiegelburg, the European indoor runner-up, who has collected wins in Doha, Rabat, and Hengelo over the past month.
Women’s High Jump
Despite the stellar season that Blanka Vlasic pieced together in 2008 – 22 victories in 24 outings – it’s the two in the loss column that many, fairly or not, will remember about the Croatian star’s season. Her first came in Beijing, where the reigning World indoor and outdoor champion lost the gold on countback to Tia Hellebaut. Her second came in the ÅF Golden League finale in Brussels, where she again lost on countback, this time to Germany’s Ariane Friedrich, a defeat which cost her $500,000.
In 2007, her only loss of the outdoor season came in the GL opener in Oslo, one that in hindsight, cost her a cool $333,333 that year. In 2009, will she brush aside those Golden League demons once and for all?
Vlasic, still just 25, is already on a tear this outdoor season, illustrating her finest early season form. She opened with a 2.05m leap to win in Doha, eight days later, topped 2.04m at a meet in her hometown of Split, and cleared 2.01 on Wednesday in Thessaloniki.
It is Friedrich, who has steadily rose in the ranks since her breakout indoors last year, who poses the most serious challenge to Vlasic’s dominance in recent years. Indoors the 25-year-old German improved to 2.05m this winter before taking the European indoor title with 2.01m, with Vlasic finishing a disappointing fifth. In her most recent outing, she easily cleared 2.00m on 5 June in Baunatal. With Friedrich one of the host nation’s most promising medal hopes for the upcoming World championships at this same stadium, it is this event that will capture the most attention, and certainly the most crowd support from the 65,000 fans expected, on Sunday (14).
The strong field also includes Russian Yelena Slesarenko (2.06m PB), the 2004 Olympic champion who was fourth in Beijing; 2007 World championships silver medallist Antonietta Di Martino of Italy; and Spaniard Ruth Beitia, the European indoor silver medallist.
There are TEN ÅF Golden League event disciplines designated to the Jackpot in 2009, five events for men and five for women, as follows:
Men: 100m, 400m, 3000m/5000m, 110m Hurdles, Javelin Throw.
Women: 100m, 400m, 100m Hurdles, High Jump, Pole Vault.
Athletics’ biggest yearly payday - ÅF Golden League Jackpot
The prize - $1 Million
The requirement - ‘6 out of 6’
The annual drama that is the season long campaign to claim the $1 Million Jackpot offered by the ÅF Golden League continues in 2009 with its ‘winner takes all’ ethos. Athletes are required to win at all six meetings in the series to acquire at least a share of athletics’ biggest yearly payday.
The possibility of a secondary prize also exists:
To sustain the active participation in the Jackpot of as many athletes as possible through to the culmination of the series, should NO athlete manage to attain six wins and claim the $1 Million, then anyone with five victories will share half the original prize - $500,000. NOTE. this secondary prize is only on offer should nobody win his or her event at all six meetings.
Cities and Dates for 2009 -
Berlin, GER – Sunday 14 June
Oslo, NOR – Friday 3 July
Rome, ITA – Friday 10 July
Paris, FRA – Friday 17 July
Zürich, SUI – Friday 28 August
Brussels, BEL – Friday 4 September
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
- ÅF Golden League logo (IAAF.org) © Copyright
- Ariane Friedrich roars with delight after clearing 2.01m (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva adds one centimetre to the world pole vault record (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Ariane Friedrich of Germany celebrates victory in the Women's High Jump in Brussels (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Blanka Vlasic sails over 2.04 at a meeting at her hometown of Split (Vladimir Dugandzic) © Copyright