IAAF Launches 2005 TDK Golden League The Best Of The Best
The TDK Golden League stands for the ‘best of the best’ in track and field athletics. The world’s six premier one-day meetings, each with its own unique flavour, combined to make the perfect recipe of world class sporting entertainment.
IAAF President Lamine Diack, Marco Donadoni of TDK and the six Golden League meetings represented by Brussels meet director Wilfred Meert hosted a live show less than two weeks prior to the beginning of the 2005 circuit on 1 July in Paris.
Joint World Record Holder for 110m Hurdles and IAAF Ambassador, Colin Jackson of Great Britain and 2003 World 400m Hurdles champion Jana Pittman of Australia were the guests of honours in Florence, with Olympic 110m Hurdles champion Liu Xiang making a guest video appearance from his native China.
President Diack started proceedings and emphasised the following points:
“I think it is important to stress that the basic concept of the TDK Golden League is something that does not need to change. These meetings are the Best in the World, attracting the Best Athletes in the World. I think it has always been our wish for the TDK Golden League to focus on Head to Head competition between athletes, and this is why the race for the $1 million dollars Jackpot has been popular.”
“But if I want to highlight what is different this year, then, I would highlight the fact that the calendar is more compact and I am also very pleased to see that we will be back in Oslo, in a brand new stadium, for the Bislett Games.”
This summer’s TDK Golden League series straddles the IAAF World Championships in Athletics which take place in Helsinki this August. Three meetings, Paris, Rome and Oslo are before, while Zurich, Brussels and Berlin take place afterwards.
With the sprints, middle distance, hurdles, jumps, and throws, each able to deliver great thrills, today’s launch focused on the Hurdles as a symbol of the “Best of the Best” of athletics. This summer, we can expect exciting 110m Hurdle races between Olympic gold medallist Liu Xiang, quadruple World champion Allen Johnson, and the European indoor winner Ladji Doucouré.
And who better than the co-World record holder Colin Jackson to examine with his expert’s keen eye, the technical merits of Johnson, Xiang and Doucouré?
“Allen has been blessed with the ability to hit hurdles and still keep his speed,” explained Jackson. “He’s been at the top of the event for a long time because he’s still looking for the World record, the only thing missing from his armoury of successes.”
Jackson continued: “Xiang is the complete opposite of Allen Johnson; his shoulders are always back. If he hits the hurdles he has a big problem. He can only get better technically. He may lose a little bit of his natural speed over the years but he has so much room for improving technically. I think he’s the one who will go under the magical barrier of 12.90.”
And finally: “Doucouré really needs to focus on getting a better start. The problem we have in the hurdles is that when you take a bad start then you create what we call a rhythm and you’re automatically driven to follow your competitors’ rhythm and you never really get out of it. It’s important that he starts level with the rest of the field so he can be the one whose rhythm the others will have to follow.”
In a pre-recorded video interview from China, co-World record holder Liu Xiang sent his own personal message to his competitors and the rest of the world.
“I can’t wait for my first attempt on the Jackpot to begin, and just reading the names of the guest stars you have with you today has really set my appetite going.”
“After my Olympic victory of 2004, I was intending to take this year a little easier but when it came down to the planning how could I miss out on the sport’s premier one day meets.”
“Six out of six! It’s going to be hard but that’s the name of the game when you are Olympic champion. Everybody will see me as the favourite and will want to beat me.”
“Honestly, today I think that Johnson and Doucouré are my greatest competitors. Yet I know that there are some other athletes that are capable of beating all 3 of us. But I think they are the two that I need to focus on as they are the only ones that can still beat me, even when I am in the best form and have given 100% of myself.”
“I believe that for every athlete there is a beginning, a peak and a decline. But Allen is still capable of being at a very high level, recently he even ran 13.03 and therefore is still a threat. But it’s also true that age is inexorable, and he’s over 12 years older than me. But on the other hand, if I think about it and see the spirit he has (or the passion he puts in), it truly moves me.”
Four-time World champion Allen Johnson also had his own personal message for the audience.
“I am really looking forward to competing in the TDK Golden League this summer. I may be 34 but I am positive I can beat all of my competitors in all the six Golden League races.”
“I have won the Jackpot once before, and after my recent run in New York, I know I can win again. I am really up and motivated by this challenge, and you are going to see some really quick times this summer.”
“See you all in Paris on 1 July for the start of the TDK Golden League 2005.”
2005 will mark the most expected return of the TDK Golden League to Oslo after the historical Bislett Stadium has been re-constructed in a record time. Wilfred Meert also emphasised the essence of the Golden League identity which is that of offering the Best of the Best of Athletics.
“Oslo is a wonderful place to compete at,” said Jana Pittman. “I remember when I won there in 2003 I was so nervous that I ended up changing my stride pattern. When you are a young Australian runner, taking part in the Oslo meeting is like one of the most prestigious achievements.”
“It’s important that all Golden League meetings are starting to become society events,” concluded Meert. “Last year it was amazing to see Paris and Berlin with such big crowds and Brussels and Zurich sold out. Last week Paris very proudly announced that they already sold 70,000 tickets and we are all looking forward to the beginning of the TDK Golden League.”