Tue, Sep 18, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Russian vaulter, US runner win Golden League payday

AP , BERLIN

Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and 400m runner Sanya Richards of the US shared the US$1 million jackpot when they won their events at the final Golden League meet of the season on Sunday.

Isinbayeva, the Olympic and world champion, cleared 4.82m to win, having taken only two other vaults at lower heights. Svetlana Feofanova was the only competitor left at 4.82 but she failed to clear the bar in all three attempts.

Richards blasted off the from the blocks and won in 49.27 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year. The US runner has improved her season best in three straight meets. She ran 49.29 in Brussels on Friday.

"I am very proud of myself," said Richards, who also won a US$250,000 share of the jackpot last year. "This time I will invest and not spend everything."

Both Isinbayeva and Richards said they were cheering for each other, even though the other's success meant sharing the jackpot. The jackpot goes to athletes who win their events at all six Golden League meets of the season.

"Right before I ran I saw that Izzy won the pole vault and it really encouraged me to come out and give my best and win it, too," Richards said.

Having made sure of taking her share of the prize, Isinbayeva tried to improve her world record but failed at all three attempts at 5.02. She holds the world mark of 5.01, set two years ago in Helsinki, Finland, at the world championships.

Isinbayeva said she wanted to find a way to use her winnings to help others back home in Volgograd, Russia.

"I would like to share my money with some kids, with poor kids," Isinbayeva said.

Richards is finishing the season strongly after a series of setbacks.

At the worlds in Osaka, Japan, Richards did not win an individual medal.

She was the No. 1-ranked runner in the 400m coming into the season but, because of illness, failed to qualify for her signature event on the US squad for the worlds.

She earned some consolation as a member of the US gold-medal-winning 1,600m relay team.

As in Brussels, Belgium, Richards used her trademark early kick for a comfortable lead halfway into the race and cruised home unchallenged.

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