Steven Hooker

Advent of IAAF Diamond League brings changes and new challenges for Steve Hooker

Steven Hooker of Australia celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's Pole Vault final at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics (Getty Images)Steven Hooker of Australia celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's Pole Vault final at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics (Getty Images) © Copyright
The past two years have brought Steve Hooker Olympic and World gold medals after two concise and well-planned campaigns. The advent of the IAAF Diamond League, Hooker writes in his latest IAAF On-line diary, will bring some changes and new challenges.

"The Diamond League provides a big challenge. Winning the Diamond League in its inaugural year would be probably the biggest prize on offer in this coming year in athletics. It’s a good goal to have and it’s going to take a fair bit of intelligence to get through a long season and get consistent results, which is what it’s going to take to win it.

"I’m going to have to change my approach. It’s a good year to have the Diamond League come in, a year that doesn’t have a major global championship. You can work out what works best with this structure of competition and the travel that’s going to be involved. It really is going to be a trial run before 2011, when we’re back to a world championships, in Daegu.

"I like the concept, though. There’s a lot of positive things for it, particularly for non-European athletes, in that the focus is shifting away from just Europe and incorporating Asia and the US. Hopefully that extends to other countries as well in future years.

"And it’s good that all events are treated equally each year. For example, the (men’s) pole vault hasn’t been a Golden League event since I’ve been on the international circuit. I think we’ve been tending to see the same events popping up year after year. A lot of events that don’t get as much of a chance have a lot to offer.

"It’s changing the way I approach this time of the year. I’m just taking it a little easier compared with the same time in other years. If I’m doing the Diamond League, I’ve got competitions that I’m going to have to do every month from February to October. That’s new for me, so I’m trying not to train too hard and take too many risks with my training, because I’m looking at the big picture and being able to build throughout my season and to perform consistently all the way through to October.

"So the main thing is just getting my body back on track. I’ve been dealing with a few issues, just niggly injuries I’ve had for a while, as well as the groin injury from world championships. The main focus now, and probably the next month or so, is to get my body to a point where I can do some higher-level training.

"I’ve been back in training for almost two months, and adding up the training I’ve been getting in I really feel I’m heading in the right direction. Next week, I might do some easy pole vault sessions _ not too spectacular, just some short-approach stuff, starting to get a feel for it again without being too hard on the body. I’m looking forward to that.

"If I can get some good pole vault training over the next couple of months and the body holds together, I might do some indoor competitions before the world indoor championships. I’m keeping my options open. If I get through some good training over the next six weeks, I think there’s an opportunity to go overseas and get some good competitions.

"If the body’s not ready, though, I’m not going to be in any rush. It’s a case of playing it by ear and trying to listen to my body the best I can."

Steven