VAULTER VAULTER

Hooker vaults back into London reckoning

It’s a little past 10am in an outwardly decrepit-looking warehouse on the  outskirts of Perth – and Steve Hooker has just finished a training session he  hopes will help vault him over a mental block towards a successful Olympic  defence.

Beijing gold medallist pole vaulter Hooker yesterday allowed the media into  what has now been a secret indoor training facility in a disused railway shop in  Midland, Perth.

The old train engines have been replaced with 100 metres of artificial runway  and, less than two months after he told the world  he ”didn’t know how to do it  any more”, things are suddenly looking up for Hooker.

”I’m a different person from two months ago,” Hooker said.

”I went back to basics and I realised I was missing some really fundamental  stuff that was really important.

”It was basic pole vault 101 stuff, I was thinking really high-level  technical stuff and neglecting the most important basics of pole vault.”

Hooker’s state-of-the-art facility – borne out of a conversation with an  energy drink company (fittingly, the one that supposedly gives you wings) – has  been in operation from March 2011.

But it’s since Hooker and his coach Alex Parnov withdrew from the Australian  domestic season in mid-February that it has really proved its worth.

Already, having stripped back his approach, Hooker has cleared 5.44m off an  eight-step run-up.

Yesterday he made his first two vaults off his full 18 steps since before his  early exit from last year’s world championships in Korea.

Hooker, whose personal best of 6.06m is the highest vault of the 21st  century, must clear 5.72m to qualify for London.

”It was no fun last year,” Hooker said.

”It was no fun getting to the world championships knowing I hadn’t done what  I needed to do for my preparation.”

One of the two runways in Midland is sloped downhill, to help replicate what  he will see in London.

As opposed to a couple of months back, Hooker says he now stands at the end  of the runway knowing exactly what he is about to do.

His next step is to prove just that in competitive circumstances, starting  with a ”sanctioned” practice competition in four weeks’ time. The sanctioning  means a qualifying clearance would count, although Hooker said he intended it  merely as preparation for his international comeback in Shanghai in May.

By: Simon White

Retrieved From:

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/sport/olympics-2012/hooker-vaults-back-into-london-reckoning-20120411-1wsk9.html

 

Steve Hooker

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