Saturday, May 31, 2008

2008 ÅF IAAF Golden League Brings New Age of Sport

Many of the sport’s biggest names are heading to the IAAF Golden League meets in Europe. Jeremy Wariner, LaShawn Merritt, Lolo Jones, and Bershawn “Batman” Jackson are running at the first stop on Sunday, June 1st at the DKB-ISA meet in Berlin, Germany.

What is surprising is that many big name stars have opted for the meets in the United States. This is a major coup for fans in this country but the decision to not run in Europe by some top athletes has left me scratching my head.

The IAAF meets in Europe have a $1 Million AF Golden League Jackpot. Both women and men athletes are competing for all or a portion of the winnings. On top of that, the bigger name stars get appearances fees and travel costs to run in Europe. Meets held in the U.S. offer performance money and travel costs--which is significantly less money.

The Adidas Track classic was fabulous and matchups at the 2008 Prefontaine Classic are ridiculous. Fans have complained about track & field in North America but the adidas Track Classic and Prefontaine Classic are now putting together meets that are normally reserved for the European circuit. But running in these U.S. meets means runners are walking away from potentially $40,000 to $1 million.

The improvements have come about because Adidas and Nike have put a great amount of resources into getting a superior product on the track at their U.S. track meets. The rival shoe giants have gone so far as to include the participation in U.S meets as a stipulation in athlete’s contracts.

More high profile meets in the U.S. means that low to mid-range athletes are getting pushed out of U.S. meets. Meet officials say athletes must be top 50 in the world at their respective events but there are eight lanes on the track. Real talk--it’s tougher than that. Athletes have to be top 10 to get in the Pre Classic depending on the event. Some of the low to mid-range athletes are getting pushed out of the U.S. races and struggle to get in good races in the weeks approaching the Olympic Trials.

Which means that some pros are sitting home this weekend during the Reebok Grand Prix, or running in a last chance meet. Moreover they certainly are not running in the IAAF Golden League meets because the European meets require even faster times.

By Jay Hicks.

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