Steven Hooker

Hooker cautiously optimistic as Berlin approaches

Steve Hooker vaulting at 2009 Sydney Track Classic (Getty Images)Steve Hooker vaulting at 2009 Sydney Track Classic (Getty Images) © Copyright
Steve Hooker has copped more than his fair share of Europe’s sometimes fickle summer weather, with three of his four of his competitions affected either by rain, or wind, or both. Two losses - one on countback - have ended an unbeaten record since the 2008 Olympic final. But he is confident he is heading in to the World championships ready to take on anyone and to jump high.

“The results of my four major competitions don’t really reflect the way I’m going. I’m training well and feel like I’m jumping well in training.

“In all the competitions, even the competitions I didn’t win, I felt like I was right in the mix and every chance of winning if things had gone slightly different.

“I still feel I’m competing well and can beat anyone on any given day, and that‘s a pretty good feeling to go into a world championships with.

“I’m with the Australian team now (which has assembled for a final pre-championships camp in Cologne), and I’m basically just fine-tuning before the worlds. I feel like I’m improving by the day and physically I feel the best I have in a very long time.

“The fact I’m injury-free for the first time for the year has brought some little problems of its own. I’ve had to make some minor adjustments. Because I’m running better, running faster, I’ve had to move my run-up out.

“It’s been a gradual progression. Maybe if I’d recognised where I was at sooner, I would have been able to make those changes a bit earlier. I think I pretty much know where I am heading to the championships and into the qualifying round, that sort of thing. Mentally, I feel pretty strong.

“As to the competition in Berlin, from the heights jumped this season the pole vault might look a bit down. It might seem quiet, but I think that’s due to most of the competitions with strong fields having been held in poor conditions.

“At Monaco (where Hooker did not compete), Brad Walker got 5.80 with a big jump and looked like he could go a high 90s, or even six metres. But he got a little injury and pulled out.

“Renaud (Lavillenie) got 88 and he’s been jumping high everywhere. And (Romain) Mesnil and Maksym Mazuryk got 5.80.

“So where they’ve had good conditions, the jumping has been alright.

“Berlin is a very good place to jump. Personally, I’ve done 5.96 there and I know Brad likes jumping there. It’s a great place to jump, the crowd gets involved. I don’t think there’s much wind there to speak of. It’s an arena that offers good conditions, so we can expect some good heights there.

“I think the Germans will go well there. Germany has always been a yardstick for pole vaulting and now there’s a new generation coming through. I’m sure they’ll do well with that hometown support.

“It’s been good getting back together with the Australian team, just hearing some Aussie voices around. It’s a really young team. There’s a number of good young athletes who are performing well and building towards their first major championship, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of them come through.

“So I’ve had some good training sessions, and it’s great to be in a team environment. It really feels like we’re heading towards a major championships now.

“It’s getting to that stage where we’re done talking. I’m looking forward to letting the results in Berlin talk for themselves.”

Steve