It’s just as well that three of Australia’s big guns, Sally Pearson, Mitchell Watt and Dani Samuels, are firing a month before the Olympics, because the biggest of them all, reigning pole vault champion Steve Hooker, is not.

Pearson, Samuels and Watt all recorded impressive wins in Europe over the weekend but Hooker continues to struggle with his confidence on the runway, and the local conditions are not helping him.

Once again, Hooker struck blustery winds at the IAAF world challenge meet in Madrid yesterday, the last thing he needs as he attempts to re-establish himself among the world elite after a crisis of confidence late last year forced him to rebuild his technique.

In Madrid, he opened his competition at 5.50m, which was once the simplest of clearances for a man with a personal best of 6m. However, he missed his first two attempts at his opening height and raised the bar to 5.60m for his third attempt, in a desperate attempt to stay in the competition. But he again failed to clear it and left the competition with no height.
In the same conditions, Watt soared to his season’s best jump of 8.26m, albeit with a substantial 3.7m/sec tailwind.

He overstepped the runway on his first attempt, then recorded a second round jump of 8.23m, improving to his winning distance in the third round. In step with his conservative approach to his pre-Olympic season, Watt then chose to rest his legs for the remainder of the competition and did not need to return to the fray to complete the victory.

“I was here to practise getting out a big jump early as that is what I will need to do in London to advance easily to the final and that’s the result I’ve pretty much ended up with here tonight,” he said.

“It was a pretty good field and I came away with a win of about 20cm so that’s pretty nice.

“I’ve got the Diamond League in London next weekend and then Monaco and the Games, so that’s why I sat out my last three. I figured there was no real need to waste too much energy in these windy and hot conditions and that should pay off in the long run.”

Unfortunately, Watt’s regular sparring partner Fabrice Lapierre, who needed an 8.20m jump to qualify for the Olympics, fell short (8.02m for fourth place) and will now have to sit out the Games.

World 100m hurdles champion Pearson knows she is the closest Australia has to a guaranteed gold medal after extending her supremacy over the world’s best sprint hurdlers at the Paris Diamond League meet on Saturday.

Pearson clocked the fastest time in the world this year, 12.40sec, despite clipping the fifth hurdle, which probably cost her a few hundredths.

She now has four of the top five times in the world this year.

By: Nicole Jeffery

From: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/london-games/struggling-steve-hooker-still-failing-to-fly/story-fne39yqs-1226420423372

steve hooker
steve hooker

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