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Six still in contention for the IAAF Golden League jackpot

Anna Legnani in Paris

21 July 1999 – Paris, France – After the first two legs of the IAAF Golden League, six athletes are still in contention for the 1 million dollar IAAF Golden League jackpot, and will pursue their quest here in Paris tonight. Those still in the race to complete the string of six victories and take a share of the pie include:

800m – Wilson Kipketer; 3000m steeplechase - Bernard Barmasai; long jump – Erick Walder

200m – Marion Jones; 800m – Svetlana Masterkova; 3000m – Gabriela Szabo

Marion Jones, the only one of last years’ three winners still in contention, also seems to be the one with the most chances of fulfilling the challenge. Unbeaten at the distance since her return to track after excelling in collegiate basketball, Jones is the only sprinter to have dipped under 22 seconds this season. The multitalented American seems to have a comfortable margin over her opponents, including French star Christine Arron, who has not appeared as brilliant this season as in 1998 when she dazzled the world with spectacular triumphs at the European Championships.

After pipping Mutola by a hair’s breadth in Oslo, Svetlana Masterkova will be on the look-out for the Mozambican’s attempted revenge, while Gabriela Szabo will have to counter the attack of Zahra Ouaziz, who will try for the top step of the podium after playing second fiddle in both Oslo and Rome.

Wilson Kipketer continues to take his season step by step, enjoying the sheer pleasure of running and being in good health, winning without putting extra pressure on himself. Bernard Barmasai appears to comfortably dominate the steeplechase, his main challenge coming from the clock as he attempts to approach his world record.  The USA's Erick Walder will attempt to hold off the attack of James Beckford in the long jump.

Disappointing news however from World and Olympic champion Allen Johnson yesterday. The US 110m hurdler has withdrawn from the Golden League meeting at Paris after a recurrence of a calf pain which forced him to miss the Nice meeting last week. This withdrawal means Johnson has no chance of qualifying for a share of the million-dollar Golden League bonus for athletes winning all their events in the series.

Spectators in Charlety will also focus on the duel in the pole vault between home-boy Jean Galfione and Maxim Tarasov, Jeff Hartwing and Tim Lobinger, all members of the six metre club. Noah Ngeny aims at continuing his progression and sending a clear message to Hicham El Guerrouj, still suffering from an infection, while Maurice Greene, the man who loves challenges, hopes to dip well below 20 seconds in spite of a slow track.

The biggest thrill of all however may come from a second series of the women’s 200m, where organisers are saving a lane for triple Olympic champion Marie José Perec, who may finally make her return to competition after being sidelined by illness for almost two years.

Live results from Paris and a full post event report will be on the IAAF web site on Wednesday