BERLIN: Tatyana Lebedeva Gets $1M If She Wins TJ - 2Sept05-

BERLIN, Sept 2 - Russian triple jumper Tatyana Lebedeva will collect $US1 million ($A1.3 million) if she wins at the final Golden League meeting of the season in the German capital on Sunday.
After turning athletics wisdom on its head and forgoing championship medals in favour of cash this summer, Lebedeva is set to repeat Maria Mutola’s feat of two years ago and win the entire Golden League jackpot.
The biggest payout in the sport is awarded to athletes who win their event in all six of Europe’s top meetings.
Lebedeva controversially pulled out of last month’s world championships to ensure she stayed fit to collect the cash.
Officially she was suffering mild discomfort in her achilles tendon, but she admitted that a third world title was not as important as securing her financial future.
Perhaps sensing she may have upset the Russian national team selectors with her attitude, she has now changed her tune, insisting: ``I don’t really care about the money, I just want to win after I was forced to withdraw from the world championships.’’
Lebedeva, 29, will collect athletics’ biggest payday if she triumphs in Berlin and goes through the formality of turning up for the World Athletics Final in Monaco next week.
The jackpot has never gone unclaimed in the history of the Golden League series.
The biggest threat to Lebedeva is Trecia Smith of Jamaica, who won the world title, but finished second behind the Russian in the Golden League meeting in Brussels last week.
Away from the triple jump pit, nine world champions will entertain the crowd at the ISTAF meeting on the blue track of the Olympic Stadium which hosts next year’s football World Cup final and the athletics world championships in 2009.
They include Rashid Ramzi, the Moroccan now competing for Bahrain who in Helsinki became the first man for more than 40 years to win a global 800m and 1500m double.
He goes in the two-lap race, hoping to show better form than in Brussels where he was soundly beaten by Kenya’s Daniel Kipchirchir Komen over 1500m.
Justin Gatlin is missing from the men’s 100 metres, but diminutive world champion Lauryn Williams goes in the women’s short sprint.