Marion Jones in action (© Getty Images)
In the beginning …
The IAAF Golden League was officially launched on 20 March 1998 just prior to the 26th IAAF World Cross Country Championships which took place in the historic city of Marrakech in Morocco.
The IAAF brought together the most important one-day athletic meetings - Oslo, Rome, Monaco, Zurich, Brussels and Berlin to create the IAAF Golden League. This new format aimed to build on the traditions and excitement of the individual meetings but create a highly visible, unified platform for the greatest athletes in the world.
The format of the first edition of the Golden League was designed to focus attention on athletics as a TV spectacular in a concentrated period of time between July 9 and September 5.
There were 12 Golden League Events - 7 for men (100m, 400m, 1500m, either 3000m 5000 or 10,000, 400m hurdles, Triple Jump and Pole Vault) and 5 for women (100m, 400m, 1500m, 100m hurdles and Javelin). Another innovation was the IAAF Golden League Jackpot of $1 million available to share among those athletes who win Golden League events at each Golden League Meeting and who also won their events at the Grand Prix Final.
The IAAF and Meeting Organisers also aimed to foster the spirit of competition by focusing on prize money rather than appearance money as a method of rewarding performance. Athletes competing at the Golden League also scored more Grand Prix points than at other meetings, and the Grand Prix points were used to decide who qualified for the IAAF’s Grand Prix Final.
This event evolved to become the World Athletics Final (WAF) which takes place for the first time in 2003 a the Stade Louis II in Monaco. Entry to this event will be based on an athlete's standings in the IAAF World Rankings. Ranking points are earned in all major athletics competitions, including championships, during the relevant season.
And the Golden League today ….
The most significant changes to the IAAF Golden League since 1998 were the addition of a meeting in Paris St-Denis (in 1999) and a reduction of the value of the Golden League Jackpot in 2000 from 1 million dollars to 50kg of gold. Athletes had to win only 5 out of 7 meetings to earn a share in 2000 and 2001 while in 2002 they had to win at all seven meetings.
This year, the IAAF Golden League Jackpot returns to its original concept since the amount on offer is back to $1 million. The 2003 Jackpot will be shared between those athletes who win their individual GL events at every Golden League meeting. To claim the Jackpot, athletes must also take part in the World Athletics Final.
With the Principality of Monaco hosting the World Athletics Final for 3 consecutive years from 2003, the Golden League was reduced to six meetings for the period 2003-2005.
This year's meetings are -
Fri 27 June Exxon Mobil Bislett Games - Oslo, Norway
Fri 4 July Meeting Gaz de France - Paris/St Denis, France
Fri 11 July Golden Gala - Rome, Italy
Sun 10 August ISTAF 2003 - Berlin, Germany
Fri 15 August Weltklasse Zurich - Zurich, Switzerland
Fri 5 September Ivo Van Damme Memorial - Brussels, Belgium
There will be 12 Golden League events in 2003, 6 each for men and women:
Men: 100m, 800m, 3000/5000m, 110 Hurdles, Pole Vault, Javelin Throw.
Women: 100m, 800m, 1500m, 400 Hurdles, High Jump, Triple Jump.