The presentation of the six Jackpot winners in Berlin - (l to r) Wariner, Richards, Powell, Saladino, Dibaba - but Bekele is missing. (© Bongarts / Getty Images)
Berlin, Germany With the sixmeeting IAAF Golden League 2006 series reaching its dramatic conclusion in Berlin’s historic Olympic stadium at the DKB-ISTAF Berlin this afternoon, here’s how the $1 Million Golden League Jackpot will be distributed*:
Asafa Powell (US$ 83,333 + 166,666 = $249,999)
When injury knocked Asafa Powell out of the World championships last year, the 23-year-old Jamaican set out to prove in 2006 that he was undeniably the finest sprinter in the world. It was a task he proved over and over again in 2006, winning, often by dominating margins, at each of the six finest one-day meetings in the world, the primary portion of a season in which the 23-year-old Jamaican was undefeated (thus far) in 15 races.
Opening with a 9.98 victory in Oslo, he never took more than 10 seconds to reach the finish line, and in Zurich, he helped make the meeting’s final night in Letzigrund Stadium a memorable one by equalling for the second time this year his 9.77 World record.
Powell said he liked the new Jackpot setup used in 2006 and offered some light-hearted advice: "Yeah, keep the system for 2007, but add more money to it."
9.96 – Bislett Games, Oslo, 2 June
9.85 – Gaz de France, Paris-Saint-Denis, 8 July
9.85 – Golden Gala, Rome, 14 July
9.77 – Weltklasse, Zurich, 18 August
9.99 – Van Damme Memorial, Brussels, 25 August
9.86 – ISTAF, Berlin, 3 September
Jeremy Wariner (US$ 83,333 + 166,666 = $249,999)
After capturing Olympic and World titles the last two years, Jeremy Wariner’s 2006 season focused primarily on narrowing the gap between himself and his manager and mentor, World record holder Michael Johnson. With unparalleled dominance in his event, along with a trio of sub-44 second races, the 22-year-old Texan certainly succeeded.
"It was tough one," Wariner said of his Berlin victory, "but I was able to focus on my race and stay consistent the whole season. The last three GL races were the toughest ones because everybody was talking about winning the Jackpot."
By far the most memorable of the six victories came at Rome's Golden Gala where he was pitted against Xavier 'X-Man' Carter, who in Lausanne just a few days earlier became the second fastest man ever in the 200 metres. But Carter's would-be challenge never materialized; in a staggering performance, Wariner cruised to a career best 43.62 to move up to the No. 4 spot all-time. Typical of his dominance this year, the young Texan won the race by more than a full second for the second week in a row. In all, he won his six Golden League contests by a combined winning margin of 3.42 seconds.
44.31 – Bislett Games, Oslo, 2 June
43.91 – Gaz de France, Paris-Saint-Denis, 8 July
43.62 – Golden Gala, Rome, 14 July
44.20 – Weltklasse, Zurich, 18 August
44.29 – Van Damme Memorial, Brussels, 25 August
44.26 – ISTAF, Berlin, 3 September
Sanya Richards (US$ 83,333 + 166,666 = $249,999)
Nearly as dominant this year over the full-lap discipline was Wariner’s training partner Sanya Richards.
“Looking back at the six races,” the 21-year-old Richards said, “the toughest was in Rome.” But even in the Italian capital, she won by more than 3/10s of a second, to underscore her position as the world's top 400 metre runner since the end of last year. Like Wariner, Richards went undefeated in the event this season, but said that she too liked the new Golden League setup.
49.82 – Oslo, 2 June
49.73 – Paris-Saint-Denis, 8 July
49.31 – Rome, 14 July
50.18 – Zurich, 18 Aug
50.02 – Brussels, 25 August
49.81 – Berlin, 3 September
Kenenisa Bekele (US$ 83,333)
Of the six athletes who arrived in Berlin with a stake in the Golden League Jackpot, conventional wisdom had Kenenisa Bekele as perhaps the most vulnerable. Once again, the young Ethiopian, the World record holder in the 5000 and 10,000 metres, showed his detractors who was the wiser.
Since his defeat in the Golden League opener in Oslo to Isaac Songok, Bekele went up against the best the world could offer, and in each remaining leg of the six-meting series, he proved time and again that he was up to the challenge. Indeed, after a long season of difficult races, it was the challengers, and not Bekele, who simply ran out of steam.
“The race was, at the end of the day,” Bekele said, “an easy one for me.” Explaining that the Berlin race was simply one to secure a piece of the jackpot, Bekele added, “When you are alone so early in the race you cannot think about world records. Now, I’m thinking more about the first race in Oslo.” Losing valuable training while helping his sister with wedding preparations, Bekele said, “My condition at the time was not the best.”
As a winner of five of six, Bekele said he liked the new setup. "If you lose you still will have the possibility to win something," Bekele said, adding that he'll use part of his share to help homeless people in Ethiopia, "and also to help build schools for children without families."
12:58.22 – Oslo, 2 June (finished second)
12:51.32 – Paris-Saint-Denis, 8 July
12:51.44 - Rome, 14 July
12:48.25 - Zurich, 18 August
12:48.09 - Brussels, 25 August
12:58.74 - Berlin, 3 September
Tirunesh Dibaba (US$ 83,333)
When double World champion Tirunesh Dibaba opened the Golden League Series with a personal best 14:30.40 in the Oslo 5000, she very quickly staked her ground as a strong Jackpot favourite. Despite fierce battles with compatriot Meseret Defar, the Olympic champion, in Paris, Rome and Brussels, Dibaba emerged victorious to claim her share of the Jackpot pie. In Berlin, Defar would finally be the spoiler, outkicking Dibaba’s fierce kick to claim her first GL win, and keeping Dibaba from a piece of the second $500,000.
Dibaba said she wasn't sure what she'll do with her share of the Jackpot, but did like this year's set up. "Yes, I think the new system is good."
14:30.40 – Oslo, 2 June
14:54.24 - Paris-Saint-Denis, 8 July
14:52.37 - Rome, 14 July
14:45.73 - Zurich, 18 August
14:30.63 - Brussels, 25 August
15:02.87 - Berlin, 3 September
Irving Saladino (US$ 83,333)
In his first competition after claiming the silver medal at the World Indoor Championships, Irving Saladino of Panama wasted little time to set out on what would become the 23-year-old’s summer-long reign at the top of men’s Long Jump. After a world-leading 8.56 Area record in Rio de Janeiro in May, Saladino again reached beyond 8.50 to win in Oslo, and besides his only blemish in Paris where he finished second, Saladino led what may be a renaissance in the event.
"The new jackpot system is very good," Saladino said, "especially for me with only five wins. It's too difficult to come first in all six."
8.53 – Oslo, 2 June
8.29 – Paris-Saint-Denis, 8 July (finished second)
8.45 – Rome, 14 July
8.36 – Zurich, 18 Aug
8.31 – Brussels, 25 August
8.35 – Berlin, 3 September
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
NOTE. * In order to collect their share of the Jackpot, winners must compete in the World Athletics Final next weekend.