Some of Australia’s best medal chances in athletics are in the jumps and throws – especially the men’s and women’s pole vault and the men’s long and triple jumps.
In fact, there’s a reasonable argument for the usual name to be reversed for Australia, and it should instead be called ‘field and track’.
Before the field programme begins, let’s take a look at some of the Australian team’s prime medal hopes.
Australia’s champion pole vaulter Steve Hooker has earned a huge public profile since his Olympic gold medal in Beijing, and his struggle for form and confidence this year has been widely discussed in the media.
Hooker deserves a lot of credit for his bravery in dealing with his confidence issues so publicly, but it can’t have made things easier.
Still, Hooker is a formidable competitor, something I saw first hand in Berlin in 2009 when he won the world championships virtually on one leg, having received an injection of painkillers in the stadium immediately before the final.
Hooker’s best height this year (5.72m) ranks him only 22nd, after a shocking run of bad weather at lead-up competitions stymied his chances of scoring a few good confidence-boosting clearances, but a jump of 5.80 would put him into the top five.
Nobody has cleared 6.0m this year. Word from inside the squad is that Hooker’s physical condition is good – if he can get his head in the right space, he could achieve anything.
Hooker’s training partner Alana Boyd is also an excellent medal chance, currently ranked fourth in the women’s pole vault with a 4.76m clearance in Perth in February. As we know, anything can and does happen in the pole vault, so we’ll have to hope the luck falls Australia’s way.
by: Tim Renowden