Maria Mutola victorious in the 800m in Brussels (© Getty Images)
A brief history of the Golden League from its beginning in 1998 to the announcement on 29 March 2004 that TDK had agreed to become title sponsor for the Golden League for 2004 and 2005.
In the beginning …
The IAAF Golden League - as of 2004, TDK 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 Golden League. It bought the television rights (outside the host country) of the meetings and resold them to Dentsu for worldwide sale.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 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 took place for the first time in 2003 at the Stade Louis II in Monaco. Entry to this event is 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.
Golden League developments ….
Prior to 2004, the most significant changes to the IAAF Golden League since 1998 had been 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.
In 2003, 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.
Also, the Golden League Jackpot returned to its original concept with the amount back to $1 million. The Jackpot is shared between those athletes who won their individual GL events at every Golden League meeting. To claim the Jackpot, athletes must also take part in the World Athletics Final.
TDK Golden League…
On Monday 29 March 2004, along with the agreement to extend the TDK Corporation’s long standing partnership with the IAAF until 2009, TDK also agreed to become title sponsor for the IAAF Golden League for 2004 and 2005.
As of the 2004 season, the IAAF Golden League will be known as the TDK Golden League, and TDK will also be the presenter of the US$ 1 Million Jackpot.
The Partnership will begin at the first meeting of the TDK Golden League at the Bergen Bislett Games in Bergen, Norway on 11 June. The other meetings are: Rome Golden Gala (2 July), Meeting Gaz de France Paris St-Denis (23 July), Weltklasse Zurich (6 August), Memorial Van Damme Brussels (3 September) and ISTAF Berlin (12 September).
There will be 12 TDK Golden League events in 2004, 6 each for men and women:
Men - 200m; 800m; 1500m; 400m Hurdles; Triple Jump; Discus Throw.
Women- 100m; 400m; 1500m 3000m/5000m; 100m Hurdles; High Jump.