Rodolfo Gómez winning the IAAF Golden Marathon in 1982

The IAAF Golden Events were a sporadic series of twelve athletics events organised by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) from 1978 to 1982. Aside from the inaugural event in Tokyo, the contests were held in Europe and were attached to independent track and field meetings.[1] The purpose of the events was to raise the profile of the sport outside of Olympic competition. Marking the growing professionalism in athletics, a significant prize pot was given to the winner of the event – a move designed to attract the sport's top athletes to compete against each other at the same meeting. The inaugural prize was an 18-carat gold trophy worth 9,500 US dollars.[2] All twelve events were for men, reflecting their position as the most prominent sex during that period.[1]

The central element of the series was the Golden Mile – a men's mile run contest that launched the series in 1978 and was held annually until 1981. The rivalry of British runners Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe in this event saw each take two wins and Coe set two mile world records in the process.[3][4] British athletes were particularly successful in the series and won eight of the twelve events. A sprint format, aggregating an athlete's times in separate 100 metres and 200 metres, was launched in 1979 and repeated in 1981. Long-distance running was also a major element of the series as it featured one 5000 metres race, two 10,000 metres races,[5] and a marathon race over the series history. Field events were in a minority, with one javelin throw and one pole vault being their only appearance.[6][7] The marathon, in 1982, was the last Golden Event to be held.[1][8]

The establishment of the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in 1983 saw the IAAF focus on its sport-specific championships as a way of using prizes to generate top level competition.[9] The launch of the IAAF Grand Prix in 1985 formalised the major track and field circuit as a professional series of point-scoring events.[10] The "Golden" was idea revived in the form of the Golden Four in 1992 – a high-prize money, track and field series comprising Oslo, Zurich, Brussels and Berlin (all venues that had hosted Golden Events).[11] This was later expanded and co-opted by the IAAF in 1998 as the IAAF Golden League,[12] which was itself later expanded to the current major track and field series: the IAAF Diamond League.[13]

Some of the events featured title sponsors: the first event was also known as the "Dubai Golden Mile", given its sponsorship by the emirate, and the final event was also known as the "Citizen Golden Marathon", under the patronage of Japanese watchmakers Citizen Holdings.[4][14]


Year Event Location Meet Winner
1978 Mile run Tokyo, Japan Tokyo Eight Nations International Steve Ovett
1979 100/200 metres Zürich, Switzerland Weltklasse Zürich James Sanford
Mile run Oslo, Norway Bislett Games Sebastian Coe
10,000 metres Brussels, Belgium Memorial Van Damme Mike McLeod
Javelin throw Budapest, Hungary Arto Härkönen
1980 Mile run London, United Kingdom London Grand Prix Steve Ovett
Pole vault Nice, France Serge Ferreira
1981 100/200 metres Berlin, West Germany Internationales Stadionfest Allan Wells
Mile run Brussels, Belgium Memorial Van Damme Sebastian Coe
5000 metres Gateshead, United Kingdom British Grand Prix Barry Smith
10,000 metres Prague, Czechoslovakia Mike McLeod
1982 Marathon Athens, Greece n/a Rodolfo Gómez

Podium finishers

Event First Second Third
1978 Golden Mile  Steve Ovett (GBR) 3:55.5  Francis Gonzalez (FRA) 3:57.3  Graham Williamson (GBR) 3:59.2
1979 Golden Sprints  James Sanford (USA) 30.54  Allan Wells (GBR) 30.64  James Gilkes (GUY) 30.67
1979 Golden Mile  Sebastian Coe (GBR) 3:48.95 WR  Steve Scott (USA) 3:51.11  Craig Masback (USA) 3:52.02
1979 Golden 10,000 m  Mike McLeod (GBR) 27:39.76  Brendan Foster (GBR) 27:41.23  Léon Schots (BEL) 27:41.34
1979 Golden Javelin  Arto Härkönen (FIN) 90.18  Antero Puranen (FIN) 89.40  Ferenc Paragi (HUN) 85.38
1980 Golden Mile  Steve Ovett (GBR) 3:52.84  Steve Scott (USA) 3:52.92  John Walker (NZL) 3:53.19
1980 Golden Vault  Serge Ferreira (FRA) 5.70 m  Philippe Houvion (FRA) 5.60 m  Mariusz Klimczyk (POL) 5.60 m
1981 Golden Sprints  Allan Wells (GBR) 30.30  Mel Lattany (USA) 30.86  Jeff Phillips (USA) 30.97
1981 Golden Mile  Sebastian Coe (GBR) 3:47.33 WR  Mike Boit (KEN) 3:49.45  Steve Scott (USA) 3:51.48
1981 Golden 5000 m  Barry Smith (GBR) 13:21.14  Tolossa Kotu (ETH) 13:23.95  Bill McChesney (USA) 13:24.66
1981 Golden 10,000 m  Mike McLeod (GBR) 27:59.38  Geoff Smith (GBR) 27:59.43  Nick Rose (GBR) 27:59.68
1982 Golden Marathon  Rodolfo Gómez (MEX) 2:11:49  Vladimir Kotov (URS) 2:13:34  Greg Meyer (USA) 2:14:07


  1. ^ a b c Golden Events. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
  3. ^ Ovett Cops Second Golden Mile Race. The Virgin Islands Daily News (1980-08-27). Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
  4. ^ a b "Within the International Federations". Archived 2015-02-27 at the Wayback Machine. Olympic Review (1980). Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
  5. ^ Turnbull, Simon (2006-10-01). Athletics: McLeod: When we were the run kings. The Independent. Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
  6. ^ Moore, Kenny (1984-07-18). The Latest In A Long Line. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
  7. ^ Ferreira beats world's best vaulters. Straits Times (1980-08-19). Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
  8. ^ Gomez Is First. New York Times (1982-03-08). Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
  9. ^ Turrini, Joseph M. (2010). The End of Amateurism in American Track and Field, pg. 239. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 9780252077074. Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
  10. ^ History of IAAF World Challenge Archived 2015-02-24 at the Wayback Machine. IAAF World Challenge. Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
  11. ^ Athletics: 'Golden Four' raising the stakes: Jaackson and Powell share jackpot as organisers in London and Lausanne press to join the elite stakes. The Independent (1994-09-01). Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
  12. ^ Rowbottom, Mike (1997-11-22). Athletics: Golden Four extended with more money and meetings . The Independent. Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
  13. ^ Twelve years of the IAAF Golden League. IAAF (2009-09-09). Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
  14. ^ Marathon History Lesson 5. Athens Marathon (2014-05-26). Retrieved on 2015-02-26.
Podium finishers