Top athletics guns gather for Berlin’s Golden League

Several potential Olympic gold medallists will be lining up at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Sunday when the IAAF Golden League season gets underway.

Top athletics guns gather for Berlin's Golden League
Will Jeremy Wariner celebrate again? Photo: DPA

With just over two months before the Beijing Olympics gets underway, some of the world’s fastest athletes will be in action in Berlin.

Of those expected to compete in the German capital, Olympic and two-time World 400m champion Jeremy Wariner will be looking to secure his first Golden League win of the season in his quest for his share of the $1-million jackpot.

In 2008, there are ten Golden League disciplines designated to the jackpot and athletes are required to win at all six meetings to acquire at least a share.

US sprinter Wariner has been virtually unstoppable since his Olympic triumph four years ago and took gold at the world championships in Osaka last year with a time of 43.45 seconds to become the third fastest man over the distance.

He brings a nine-race winning streak to Berlin, but will face stiff competition from world leader Lashawn Merritt after the United States sprinter ran 44.34 in Martinique recently.

In the men’s 100 metres, world champion Derrick Atkins will start as favourite having beaten distant cousin Asafa Powell, the world record holder, in Osaka last year.

Another name expected to dazzle in Berlin is Sweden’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, who stormed to the sprint forefront with an impressive two days at the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart earlier this year.

A day after lowering his national record to 10.06, the Gambian-born sprinter powered to a 19.89 performance in the 200m.

Others to watch include 2003 World champion Kim Collins from St. Kitts and Nevis, who’s developed a knack for performing well when it matters most.

In the women’s 200 metres, Jamaican Kerron Stewart is tipped for a major breakthrough this season. The 24-year-old Jamaican arrives in Berlin with a pair of career bests under her belt already this year including a 22.35 from early April.

European eyes will be on the continent’s reigning double champion, Belgium’s Kim Gevaert who has been impressive so far this season. She is off to one of her finest ever starts after an 11.05 opener over 100 metres a few weeks ago.

2008 Golden League disciplines

Men: 100m, 400m, 1500m, 400m Hurdles, Long Jump, Javelin

Women: 200m, 800m, 100m Hurdles, High Jump

Athletes are required to win at all six meetings to acquire at least a share of the one-million dollar jackpot.

2008 Golden League dates

Berlin, Germany, Sunday June 1

Oslo, Norway, Friday June 6

Rome, Italy, Friday July 11

Paris, France, Friday July 18

Zurich, Switzerland, Friday August 29

Brussels, Belgium, Friday September 5

For members


EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.