Wilson Kipketer at the 1997 Weltklasse in Koln meeting (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Fukuoka, Japan

IAAF Grand Prix Final preview - Main contenders for the jackpot in Japan

he current leader of the IAAF Grand Prix Standings, Wilson Kipketer, can only be overtaken for the men’s Overall Grand Prix title if he loses the 800m comprehensively or one of his close rivals breaks a world record at the 13th IAAF Grand Prix Final in Fukuoka on Saturday September 13.

With world record bonus points from Stockholm, Zürich and Cologne and a total of eight Grand Prix wins, the Dane has a commanding lead of 13 points from last year’s Overall winner Komen. Kipketer could afford to finish fourth in the 800m yet still stay ahead of Komen even if the Kenyan wins the 5000m. In this example, the Dane would have totalled 102 points (87 existing points + 15 for fourth place), and Komen 101 (74+27)

As Kipketer has not been beaten at 800m since the 1995 IAAF Grand Prix Final, it seems safe to assume he will win again, in which case a new world record is required by his closest challengers. A new record is worth 18 bonus points; this would be enough for Komen, Riedel or El Guerrouj to catch Kipketer. It should be noted Komen has set one world record this year (at 5000m), while both the German and Moroccan have come reasonably close to the record in their events. A world record equalled in the Final is worth nine points; this will only be enough to overtake Kipketer if he is defeated.

It is quite possible that Kipketer himself could set another world record. He would then be unbeatable in terms of the Grand Prix, but in any case he seems poised to win the overall title with a new record points total.

MEN - Current standings

1Wilson KipketerDEN87 Grand Prix Points
2Daniel KomenKEN74
3Lars RiedelGER72
4Hicham El GuerroujMAR72
5Allen JohnsonUSA68
6Mark CrearUSA68
7Moses KiptanuiKEN67
8James BeckfordJAM64
9Boris HenryGER61
10Bernard BarmasaiKEN58

The women’s event is much closer, because the two top contenders - Astrid Kumbernuss and Deon Hemmings - look to be heading for similar scores. Both women have a maximum 72 points, each having eight Grand Prix victories this season. Assuming they both win again in Fukuoka, the overall title will go to the woman whose performance in the final earns most points on the IAAF Scoring Tables of Athletics (1996 Revised Edition).


Consider the closely-matched personal and seasonal bests of the two principal performers:

Personal Bests Performance    Score
Kumbernuss (Shot Put)21.22 (1995/97)1239
Hemmings (400m Hurdles)52.82 (1996)1247
1997 Bests Performance    Score
Kumbernuss (Shot Put)21.221239
Hemmings (400m Hurdles)52.981243

The tables favour Hemmings slightly, but Kumbernuss has the advantage of competing after the Jamaican, so will know exactly what to do in order to win.

The two leaders have close rivals in their respective events, so it is conceivable that either could be beaten. If each finish second with Kaspárková winning the Triple Jump, then the Czech could take the title. In such a scenario, all three women would total 93 points (72+21 for Kumbernuss & Hemmings, 66+27 for Kaspárková). Whoever has the best scoring performance on the day would win; Kaspárková's 15.20 triple jump personal best this year would be worth 1249 points - more than the best performances of Kumbernuss or Hemmings as noted above. Should either succeed in such circumstances, it would be the first time under current rules that an Overall title had gone to an athlete who did not win at the Grand Prix final. If there is a tie on both Grand Prix and Scoring Table points, the Grand Prix Awards will be shared.

WOMEN - Current standings

1Astrid KumbernussGER72
1Deon HemmingsJAM72
3Sarka KaspárkováCZE66
4Kim BattenUSA64
5Inga BabakovaUKR63
6Yelena AfanasyevaRUS57
7Amy AcuffUSA52
7Ashia HansenGBR52
7Tatyana TereshchukUKR52
7Maria MutolaMOZ52
7Ana QuirotCUB52

Points at the Grand Prix Final

PlaceGrand Prix Points

World Record Broken = 18
World Record Equalled = 9

Awards at the Grand Prix Final

PlaceOverallIndividual Events

Field event no height or no mark = US$2500

World Record (broken, not equalled) = US$100,000

Check out the IAAF Internet site for preview, report and results from Fukuoka


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