STEVE Hooker’s coach warns his rivals the defending Olympic pole-vault champion won’t be in London as a tourist.

After watching his man qualify for the games on Friday night, Alex Parnov said Hooker had enough time to be ready to contend for medals in August.

“We started three months ago and now we have got three months in front to find another 20cm or 25cm, which will probably be enough to be ready for the big fight,” he said.

“We’re not passengers who are going to go to the Olympic Games like a tourist. (Qualifying) is only the first step, which was obviously accomplished in perfect conditions.

“No one will misjudge him now. He is definitely in the race and he’s one of the most dangerous players.”

Hooker leaves Australia today for his first international competition for the year in Shanghai on Saturday.

“I’m not expecting anything huge there,” Hooker said. “I want to just go there and get back into the swing of international competition, get used to jumping with other guys.”

The world and Olympic champion cleared 5.72m – the Olympic A-standard qualifying mark – on Friday night at a sanctioned event at his private training facility in Perth.

It was a major step after he suffered a bad case of the yips at the start of the year and was forced to withdraw from the Australian season.

Hooker said he was still a long way from feeling his best at the top of the runway, but that he was optimistic he could get there in time for the games.

“For three years I was in the position where I had momentum, but the momentum was going in the wrong direction and it’s so hard to turn around,” he said.

“In a lot of ways, hitting rock bottom had to happen at some point, where the only way was up.

“Now I feel I’m on that trajectory.

“I’m happy with it and I feel I can build on all the things I’ve been working on.”

He plans to compete in four meets over the next month and be jumping about 5.90m by the Olympics.

By Scott Gullan

From http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/london-olympics/pole-vault-champion-steve-hooker-wont-be-at-london-games-to-make-up-the-numbers-says-coach/story-fn9dheyx-1226358039429

Steve Hooker

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