Steven Hooker

Long break from competition suits me just fine

Steven Hooker clears 5.95m to win the IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup in Split (Getty Images)Steven Hooker clears 5.95m to win the IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup in Split (Getty Images) © Copyright
Big things happened the last time Steve Hooker, the 2008 Olympic Pole Vault champion, took a long break from competition, and he expects the same again.

“The last time I had this long a period of training was 2003 and that led into the season when I qualified for the Olympic Games. In 2003, I didn’t have a European summer. Having trained through that year made a really big difference.

“A couple of really good breakthroughs followed that period. It set me up for a big ‘pb’ at the start of 2004 and, eventually, to qualify for the Olympics.

“Right now, everything is going well. I’m ahead of where I thought I’d be, running well and doing some good pole vault sessions.

“Most vaulters round the world see the year having an indoor season and an outdoor season. I’m one who jumps pretty well indoors as well so it’s a season I usually take seriously. I’m sure, given it’s a European championship year, all the Europeans are taking it pretty seriously.

“This year, though, I’m in the advantageous position of being able to train through it, get in some pretty good conditioning stuff. So by the time the European summer comes around I’ll have nine months really solid training behind me and I’ll feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.

“It’s a positive thing mentally and emotionally. Watching guys in Europe jumping well while I’m not competing is making me pretty hungry to get back into it. It motivates me in my training.

“I’m not itching to jump into a competition. I’m enjoying the training, enjoying the direction in which it’s heading and I feel like I’m still a few months away from wanting to compete.

“Everything is happening well, I’m feeling really strong and getting some great technical sessions in – all the things I haven’t had a lot of time for the past few years. My body’s enjoying it.

“I’m not doing a huge volume of training. The fact that I’ve got nine months to do the sort of training I need to do to prepare for a season rather than having three months means I can spread the training out over that period of time and be a bit more sensible about it.

“Rather than having to go three months really, really hard I can be more gradual with it, listen to my body. If I feel like I’m getting to a point where it’s getting too hard it’s quite easy to take my foot off the pedal, let my body recover, so I’m always feeling pretty good throughout the training.

“Normally you don’t get the luxury. When it’s three months, you need every day of training to count, you need to be putting in really, really hard sessions each day otherwise you can’t get your body to the right place by the time the season comes around.

“I keep an eye on the results around the world. I’m a bit surprised guys like Renaud Lavillenie and Malte Mohr haven’t jumped higher. I expected them to be around six metres. With the European champs coming up I think we’ll see some big heights and strong competition between them.

“That’s what keeps me motivated right now. That motivates me to keep working hard so I can go and jump against them when I get to Europe.

Steven