Felix Sanchez Clinches Share Of IAAF Golden Jackpot

Sept. 10, 2002

Former USC track star Felix Sanchez won the 400-meter hurdles in Berlin on Friday (Sept. 6) to clinch a share of the IAAF Golden League Jackpot along with fellow track luminaries Marion Jones, Hicham El Guerrouj and Ana Guevara.

Each of the four contenders had won six of six races on the Golden League circuit. At least a share of 50 kilos of gold was available to any of the four contenders as long as they won in Berlin and completed a seven out of seven win streak.

Sanchez, the 2001 World Champion in the 400-meter hurdles and current world leader with a time of 47.35, broke the field in the first 200 meters with a bold strategy which left him well clear coming into the last 100 meters. By the last hurdle, Sanchez had begun to tire as a result of his initial effort and Saudi Arabia's Hadi Soua�n Al-Somaily closed significantly but, by that stage, he had secured the win (48.05) and a share of the jackpot.

Sanchez, the USC record holder in the 400-meter hurdles as well as former NCAA champion, got some other good news shortly after when it was learned that the schedule for the Grand Prix final, taking place in Paris on Saturday, has been altered to allow him to compete as well in the 400-meter dash. Sanchez has been aiming for a 400m/400m hurdles double since the beginning of the season and qualified for the final in both events. He had requested that the order of events be changed so that the 400-meter Hurdles came first.

IAAF General Secretary Istvan Gyulai said: 'We have agreed to this request because it is the duty of our sport's leaders to create unique opportunities for athletes. We want new heroes to emerge who are ready to take on supreme challenges, and who have the ambition to enter the history books.'

Speaking from Paris, Sanchez said: 'I would like to thank the IAAF for giving me this chance. I have been planning this all season and now I am delighted to have the possibility to do what has never been done before. It'll be very tough. Everyone will be waiting for me, but I will give everything I have to win both races.'

Other quotes from Sanchez following his win:

'When I came off the 10th hurdle, I knew the race was finished, I knew the Jackpot was mine. There are a lot of great competitors but there is one thing that is sure: if I clear the last hurdle in front, no-one will catch me from behind.

'So a few strides from the finish I decided to raise my arms to the sky and enjoy the moment. I felt really relaxed just then and wanted to make the most of it. It didn't really matter how fast I would run, I just wanted to finish, win and set all the critics up. I have proved that I could win the Jackpot, with my first attempt and in the year when the system was harder than ever with seven out of seven wins.

'With the money I won, I might purchase a house, maybe for my mother, maybe in the Dominican Republic, I still don't know exactly. I need to take the time to properly think things through.

'Now that the Golden League is over I will remain focused for the Grand Prix Final and the World Cup. I am in very good shape, I feel very strong and I want to remain undefeated all year round. I will give 200 per cent of myself in the coming weeks. You know, the 400m Hurdles World Record is a bit of history. So is the name of Edwin Moses. Now I want to make my own mark on history and I want to do this by winning a 400/400m Hurdles double in a major championship.

'The Grand Prix Final will be very difficult for the simple reason that everybody will be waiting for me. When I won the double in London it was a bit of a surprise for everyone but if it happens in Paris, everyone will be ready, and trying hard to stop me winning both races.

'Off the track, I must confess I really enjoyed my few days off in Venice, where the weather was gorgeous and I managed to enjoy myself and get away from all the pressure and the demands of the media. I have learnt a few basic Italian words, ate wonderful pasta - I especially liked the tortellini - tried the pizza and drank some excellent wine!

'I am now in Paris, where I arrived on Sunday, so this will give me a lot of time to go sightseeing. When I came at the beginning of July for the Golden League meeting, it rained almost all the time so I didn't get a chance to go round the city. But this time, I'd really like to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.'

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