VAULTER VAULTER

Defending Olympic pole vault champion Steve Hooker regains his mojo

THERE is a pulse. Just when Steve Hooker had been written off, the defending Olympic pole vault champion puts himself back in the game by registering his best jump for two years.

The Australian team captain cleared 5.72m in Poland to send a timely warning to his rivals that he may finally be over the yips which threatened to ruin his career.

Hooker admitted he was pleased to see the results of some positive training showing up in competition given he has failed to clear a height at his previous couple of outings.

“The 5.72 (on my third attempt) was a really good jump, that was the best jump I have done in a couple of years now and I was really happy with that,” Hooker said.

“Then with the 5.82m I had a few issues with my run-up and I didn’t take a jump at 82 but it wasn’t mental, it was technical. I know what it was and I tried to fix it on my last one but didn’t get it right and that’s what I will be going away and working on at training.”

Britain’s Steve Lewis, who Hooker had spent the past week training with in London, won with a new personal best of 5.82m, with American Brad Walker claiming second on a countback from Hooker at 5.72m.

After qualifying for the Games at a meet in his private training facility in Perth in May, Hooker has struggled since he arrived in Europe with poor weather conditions seemingly haunting him.

His performance in Poland improved his best mark in Europe by 30cm, having previously recorded 5.42m in Rome in May and the same mark in Lille, France, last month.

“I feel like I’m continuing the things I have been working on, the conditions weren’t ideal it was a bit cold and the winds were funny but it was the best I have had,” he said.

“All along I have been saying I actually feel all right, I have been doing things pretty well and just been in challenging comps so in a way tonight showed that wasn’t all smoke and mirrors.”

Hooker, who is the second highest vaulter in history, feels he can now have an impact in London.

“What has been happening in the public eye and what has been happening in these comps isn’t reflective of what I have been doing at training,” Hooker said.

“I feel it has been coming along and improving the whole season and I am in a really good place, but it’s just been really difficult at every meet.

“It’s going to be a big event in London, it was just good to get a couple of good jumps in and a really good warm-up.

“That sort of performance in the qualifying round (at the Olympics) would be good enough for the final and then anything can happen.”

Discus thrower Ben Harradine also had a confidence-boosting performance, finishing second with a best throw of 64.92m. Lithuania’s Virgilijus Alekna won in 68.50m with Olympic silver medalist Piotr Malachowski third with 64.29.

In Italy, sprinter Josh Ross continued his impressive form winning the 100m in 10.23sec while John Steffensen ran 46.37sec in the 400m. Over in Belgium, Melissa Breen was also successful in the 100m clocking 11.36sec.

by: Scott Gullan

from: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/london-olympics/defending-olympic-pole-vault-champion-steve-hooker-regains-his-mojo/story-fn9dheyx-1226432018944

Steve Hooker
Steve Hooker

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