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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Golden League winners and losers
BBC Sport's Steve Cram

Now that the Golden League is over for another season, here are my personal highlights from this summer's series:

Best male athlete

As much as I'm a fan of Hicham El Guerrouj, I'm going to go for Felix Sanchez.

Felix Sanchez celebrates another Golden League win
Sanchez, the 2002 400m hurdles king
Sanchez has had to deal with tougher competition but has always managed to raise his game when he wants to.

Across the Golden League series, his performances have been good in what is a touch event.

It's hard on El Guerrouj, but unless he actually breaks a world record it's difficult to sit up and get really excited.

Whereas he has maintained the same level of performance as last year. Sanchez has taken a real leap forward in class.

For a smallish guy to do so well over 400m hurdles, traditionally the preserve of big men, and also run well on the flat is impressive stuff.

Best female athlete

You can't really look beyond Marian Jones and Ana Guevara, simply because both were unbeaten throughout the series.

Ana Guevara points to the crowd after winning another Golden League 400m
Guevara was unbeaten throughout the Golden League series
To me, Marion hasn't been great this year. She's beaten Zhanna Pintusevich-Block when she's had to, but she hasn't been totally dominant.

That's why 400m star Guevara gets the nod - although I'd like to see her prove herself in a major championships.

She's run fast times in the past, but she now needs to do it when it really matters.

To be fair to her, had Cathy Freeman and Katharine Merry been fit, Guevara probably still would have come out on top.

Best one-off performance

It's been a summer when the best performances came at the major championships.

But the 10,000m in Brussels produced a tremendous run from Sammy Kipketer, holding off John Korir and Richard Limo in a last-lap sprint.

Maybe I'm biased because it was a special moment on the track - but isn't that what having your own column is all about?

Best meet

That 10km in Brussels was a great race, but the women's 3,000m in Monaco made that the best single meet.

It was Paula Radcliffe's first outing since the London Marathon, and it was the first indication we had that she was in such devastating form.

She ran a 63-second last lap and pushed Gabi Szabo so hard that the Romanian set a new European record.

Paula broke the British record in the process and really set the scene for the brilliant runs she would put in at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships.

Zurich didn't get going properly. But in Monaco Helen Pattinson was pipped in a great 1500m, Jones and Guevara ran fast and Mo Greene actually ran well.

Most promising youngster

Cornelius Chirchir - famous name, and a Kenyan too - impressed me greatly.

Cornelius Chirchir of Kenya smiles
Chirchir: impressed Cram
Obviously I'll always look out for star 1500m men, but he looks to have what it takes.

I was hoping that a few of our British youngsters would break through, but for various reasons it didn't quite happen.

Best memory

I'm not a huge fan of the Golden League structure as it stands at the moment, but there was a nice moment in Monaco which summed up how it can work well.

Monaco is a surreal place for a meet anyway. Most of the locals are too rich to be that bothered, so you get a lot of tourists there.

I met a couple of English lads who had sneaked into the stadium on the off-chance of seeing some athletics and ended up seeing some great stuff.

They went away convinced that it was worth going to see another meet - and that put a smile on my face.

Steve Cram
"Sanchez raised his game when he had to"
Golden League

Steve Cram







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