MonteCarloWith the start of the ÅF Golden League only four days away we continue our Jackpot Event Previews, with a summary of who to look out for in the four sprint events which are applicable for the $1 Million ÅF Golden League Jackpot in 2009.
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.
Sanya Richards is no stranger to ÅF Golden League competition. In 2006, the 24-year-old American won at six meetings to share the top prize with two others. The following year she duplicated the feat to split the $1 Million pie with Yelena Isinbayeva. This year the perennial full lap speedster returns in an attempt to become only the second woman to capture a piece of the Jackpot for a third time.
Since her first jaunt into sub-50-second territory in 2004, Richards has been among the most consistent performers on the single day circuit. The World championships silver medallist in 2005 and Olympic bronze medallist last year, Richards is the fastest among current 400m specialists thanks to her 48.70 US record set at the 2006 IAAF World Cup. Last year she lost just one 400m race in 10 outings. After her 49.86 dominating victory in Eugene last weekend, sShe’s already off to a flying start in 2009.
Her challengers in Berlin include Russian Yuliya Gushchina, who finished fourth in Beijing and collected Olympic gold in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays; another Russian, Tatyana Firova, a Beijing Olympic finalist and gold medallist in the 4x400m; and Amantle Montsho of Botswana, the reigning African champion and 2008 Olympic finalist.
It didn’t take long for Jamaican Kerron Stewart to shift her collegiate success to the international stage. A year ago, in just her second professional campaign, the 25-year-old not only survived the arduous Jamaican Olympic selection process in the sprints, but managed to emerge as the only women’s double individual sprint medallist in Beijing. At the Jamaican trials, she clocked a career best 10.80 to win the 100m, then came back to finish second over the half lap in 21.99, also a personal best. She followed up admirably in Beijing, finishing a joint second in the 100m, and taking the bronze in the 200.
Stewart has run exceptionally well this spring, winning in three of her four starts in the 100m, twice dipping under 11 seconds: 10.92 in Kingston and 10.93 in Doha, both against strong fields. Her only loss came in Eugene last Sunday, in a strong battle with Carmelita Jeter, 10.85w to 10.90w.
Also bringing strong momentum to Berlin’s Olympic Stadium is Laverne Jones of the US Virgin Islands, who lowered her own national record in each of her two last races (both victories), most recently with her 11.13 victory in Hengelo.
Others in the chase include Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad, a 2008 Olympian and double dash national record holder with an 11.06 best; American Stephanie Durst, the winner this year in Dakar and Belgrade, and runner-up in Doha and Hengelo; and Jamaican Sheri-Ann Brooks, a 2007 World champion in the 4x100m Relay.
Three career sub-10-second men will take the line in Berlin, led my Trinidad’s Marc Burns. A 2008 Olympic finalist, Burns clocked his first sub-10 in 2005 and twice clocked 9.97 last season, and finished fifth at the World Athletics Final. Samuel Francis of Qatar, the Asian record holder at 9.99, reached the semis at the Olympics last year, and has a wind-assisted 10.02 to his credit this season.
But bringing the best momentum of the field to the German capital is 22-year-old Daniel Bailey of Antigua. A 10.12 sprinter a year ago, he’s improved dramatically already this young season. Opening with a wind-assisted 9.93 (+2.3) in Spanish Town in mid-March, he clocked a national record 10.02 in Kingston, where he finished second in a photo finish, before improving to 9.99 in Belem late last month.
American Rae Edwards – 10.02 PB this season - could also be a factor. The 28-year-old finished second in Belgrade and Hengelo and ran away with the B Race in Eugene last Sunday.
The men’s full lap will reunite three Beijing Olympic finalists: Bahamian Chris Brown, Leslie Djhone of France, and Swede Johan Wissman.
Brown, the reigning Pan-American champion, finished fourth at each of the previous two World championships and at the Olympic Games last year, and opened 2009 with a runner-up finish in Carson and third place showing in New York.
Djhone, who was fifth in Beijing and at the 2007 World Championships, will be making his 2009 debut. Wissman, eighth in Beijing, continued his successful shift from the 200m earlier this season when he took a dominating victory at the European indoor championships.
The field also includes Gary Kikaya of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the African record holder at 44.10; and Bahamian Andretti Bain, who lowered his PB to 44.62 when winning the 2008 NCAA title. He, along with Brown, also took Olympic silver last year in the 4x400m Relay.
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