IAAF Golden League launch, Oslo - Jeremy Wariner, Kajsa Bergqvist, Wilfried Meert, Lamine Diack, Colin Jackson, Kenenisa Bekele (© IAAF)
Oslo, NorwayThe IAAF Press Conference to launch the IAAF Golden League 2006 series took place today at the SAS Radisson SAS Plaza Hotel, in Oslo.
In attendance were IAAF President Lamine Diack, Golden League meetings spokesperson Wilfried Meert, ExxonMobil Bislett Games meeting director Svein Arne Hansen, and IAAF Ambassador Colin Jackson, the retired co-World record holder in the 110m Hurdles.
The following star guests were also present: Kajsa Bergqvist (SWE), the World champion in the High Jump; Jeremy Wariner (USA), the World and Olympic champion in the 400m; and Kenenisa Bekele (ETH), the World and Olympic champion in the 10,000m.
IAAF President Lamine Diack
“With this being the only year in which there are no major international championships or Olympic Games, the athletes can really focus on this great event, which is the Golden League.”
“We also have a new Jackpot this year. I am convinced this new concept which gives more opportunities for athletes to share in the one million dollar prize will in turn make the Golden League even more attractive to the public. Twice we have had just one winner of the Jackpot which of course has deservedly for Maria Mutola and Tatyana Lebedeva made great press and TV headlines.”
“But for the public to become even more passionate about this series on a long term basis it is surely better for more of our stars to remain in the battle for at least a share of the Jackpot for longer each season.”
Colin Jackson (IAAF Ambassador), co-World holder 110m Hurdles
"When I was competing in the Golden League, what I thought was really great about it was the opportunity to prove that you were the best athlete in your event in the world for a continuious period. Not just a one-off race. You all have to be good all the time, in every single month athletics took place . And for me it was just about the consistency of the season, not just a one-off performance. And that’s what for me made the Golden League so special, and something to really focus on to prove that you could really be the best in your event in that season."
How important is the Golden League for you this year, when you also have a European Championships?
"It is very important. I’m really excited about it since I haven’t competed in the Golden League since 2003. These are the biggest competitions, the best crowds."
How difficult is it to remain consistent throughout the season?
"Normally I’m quite consistent in my jumping and I’ve been at a high level for a while. Last year was a bit exceptional that stayed undefeated through the full season. It would have been great for me if the Golden League was last year, actually."
After winning Olympic and World titles, how important would it be to add the Golden League to your list of accolades?
"It would be a great feeling to add this (Golden League Jackpot) to that list. With the jackpot, the Olympic and World gold medal, it would be pretty much everything I could do in track and field, except for the World record."
You’ve started very fast this season. Can you run below 44 seconds tomorrow?
"Back in April I opened my season in 44.12, so I think it’s possible to go 43 this early. My training’s been going great, I’m stronger and faster now."
Will the Golden League be about running fast, or about winning?
"Both. I want to stay consistent running low 44s and high 43s this year, and possibly get to mid 43s by the end of the season. And at the same time I want be undefeated at the end of this year."
Can there come a time when you can break Michael Johnson’s World record?
"Definitely. The way my training’s been going, I’m getting stronger each year, I’m getting quicker. He believes I can, me and coach [Clyde] Hart know I can, but when it’s going to happen we don’t know."
How difficult is it for you when you are expected to run very fast all the time?
"It’s difficult to run fast all the time, so it gives me more confidence when others expect me to."
Who do you see as your chief rivals?
"The Kenyans, Songok expecially, and of course many Ethiopians. There are many strong athletes."
Are you in good enough shape to win each Golden League race?
"It’s too hard to say at this time who’s going to win, and how many they’re going to win. Each race is different. There are so many strong athletes in each event that it’s difficult to know who the winners will be."
Will we see a World record from you this year?
"A World record is extremely difficult. In the Golden League, I want to think about winning. That’s more important than world records."
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
Click here for the Start list / Results for the ExxonMobil Bislett Games