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Olympic pole vault champion Steve Hooker to quit athletics

ONE of Australia’s greatest athletes will bid farewell to the sport on Saturday, albeit not in the fashion he had planned.

Olympic pole vault champion Steve Hooker’s last act as a track and field athlete will be competing in the 200m and 4x400m relay for Box Hill in the AV Shield at Albert Park.

“It is definitely not the way I expected things to finish,” he said. “I think in a lot of ways the only thing I was holding out for with my jumping was a happy ending, to have some great result to finish on.

“I ultimately came to terms with the fact that that wasn’t motivation enough for me to get back to that point.

“I think in a lot of ways it’s nice to finish in humbling circumstances rather than with some incredible performance. It’s probably more symbolic of my journey and the battles as an athlete, than the high points, because it was ultimately the challenge of it all.

“It is an event that is nearly impossible to conquer permanently, you might have the edge on that event for a period of time but it’s so physically and mentally challenging that to keep at that level for a long period of time is very hard.”

Hooker’s rise to the top of the sport was spectacular, starting with victory at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

 

Steve Hooker celebrates winning pole vault gold at the Beijing Olympics.

Steve Hooker celebrates winning pole vault gold at the Beijing Olympics. Source: News Limited

 

He won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in dramatic fashion, making third attempt clearances at several heights before winning with an Olympic record jump of 5.96m.

That was also the year he produced his personal best vault of 6.06m which places him third on the all-time list behind Renaud Lavillenie, who cleared 6.16m in February this year, and the great Sergey Bubka (6.15m).

Hooker’s performance to win the world title in Berlin in 2009 despite a serious hamstring injury – he only had two jumps and one successful clearance at 5.90m – is one even he still can’t get his head around.

“All three of my Olympic experiences were incredible but for me the 2009 world championships is something that seems almost unrealistic that it happened to me now, it almost sounds like a made up story,” he said.

Hooker battled the yips in the later part of his career but still managed to make it into the Olympic final at the London Games in 2012 where he failed to clear a height.

“Just making the team in London was incredibly rewarding,” he said.

After having his first child with Russian 800m runner, Katya Kostetskaya, last year, Hooker attempted a comeback by moving to Arizona and training with respected American coach Dan Pfaff.

The last pole vault competition of his career was actually a day after Maxim’s birth in June last year.

“I kept training for a little bit after that but I was doing a vault session on my 31st birthday on the 16th of July and it wasn’t going great,” Hooker said.

“I had a long chat with my coach Dan and he gave me the freedom to give myself a break from it as it hadn’t been fun for a long period of time.

“Over the next nine months or so I haven’t felt that much of an urge to get back into it and I’ve really enjoyed the other things I’ve been doing.”

From: http://m.heraldsun.com.au/sport/olympic-pole-vault-champion-steve-hooker-to-quit-athletics/story-fni2u98u-1226881561217

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