POCATELLO — About 360 athletes, dignitaries and Olympians came out Friday for Breakfast with Fosbury and Friends, now a tradition during the annual Simplot Games held in Holt Arena on the Idaho State University campus.

Currently in its 38th year, director Lisa Woodland said 2,165 athletes from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Australia enrolled in the track and field event, which kicked off Thursday.

“This is an opportunity to introduce the community to the Olympians,” Woodland said.

JR Simplot spokesman Rick Phillips said the goal of the annual event is to expose Idaho athletes to the best competition in the world and to inspire them by introducing them to Olympians.

Simplot Games Chairman Dick Fosbury is one of those Olympians.

Fosbury won a gold medal in the 1968 Olympics, and he is a U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and a U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame member. Fosbury is an executive board member and past president of the World Olympic Association.

He developed the Fosbury Flop and employed the move to win gold. The technique he perfected is still taught today.

In fact, Steve Hooker, who earned a gold medal in the pole vault during in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, said as a high school athlete he worked to perfect the Fosbury Flop.

“I was just star struck when I met Dick Fosbury,” Hooker said Friday.

Hooker is a two-time World Champion and a past Olympic record holder jumping 19-feet, 6.5 inches, and he was the keynote speaker during breakfast Friday.

He told the crowd that pole vaulting required athletes to run at a rate of about 10 meters per second for a distance of about 150 feet and then, in a split second, turn that speed into vertical energy.

“There’s that one minute when you have to commit,” Hooker said. “If you’re one second too late, you’re not going to make it over, and (if) you’re one second too early, you could get hurt.”

Hooker comes from an Olympic family. His mother is a long jumper, and his dad is a runner.

His career in the pole vault was launched when he was 18 years old, and he competed in the World Junior Championship. He finished fourth and was on top of the world, but the next four years were not good. Injuries sort of mentally crippled Hooker.

He didn’t even qualify in Athens in 2004, but he said the trip turned out to be a rewarding learning experience.

“The best pole vaulters in the world were there, and I had an opportunity to watch them,” Hooker said. “The hardest period of your life is when you go from competing as a kid to competing as an adult.”

Hooker is the first Australian man to ever hold both the Olympic and world titles concurrently.

Hooker’s win in Beijing was also the first for an Australian in that event.

Under dramatic circumstances, he twice cleared clutch jumps on his third attempt in the final, before clinching the gold medal with yet another third attempt clearance at 5.90m.

With the gold medal secured, he went on to break the Olympic record with another third and final attempt heart-stopper at 19-feet, 6.5 inches.

“It was almost like an out-of-body experience,” Hooker said.

In 2009, Hooker continued defeating world class fields in New York, Boston, Paris, the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, Stockholm, Sydney and Melbourne before claiming gold in the IAAF World Championships in Berlin.

That win was difficult considering Hooker tore his thigh muscle in training 12 days prior to the final.

Hooker, who is the Australian Flame track and field team captain, also became pole vaulting history’s second highest jumper, setting the national record of 6.06m in Boston in 2009.

Other Olympians in the Gate City for the Simplot Games include Andre Phillips, who won gold in 1988 in the 400-metter hurdles. He was voted “Olympian Most Likely to Make You Laugh.” Stacy Dragila, 2000 Olympic gold medalist in the pole-vault and two-time World Champion, was also there.

 

 

 

From: http://www.idahostatejournal.com/members/australian-olympian-steve-hooker-in-town-for-simplot-games/article_39408e20-4817-5660-b570-253ab635d7e6.html

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