08 MAR 2011 Series

Hooker enjoying the competition and his competitors, from the sidelines – IAAF Online Diaries

Steven Hooker is congratulated by Renaud Lavillenie for winning the IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup in Split (Getty Images)Steven Hooker is congratulated by Renaud Lavillenie for winning the IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup in Split (Getty Images) © Copyright
Sitting out the Australian season means missing competition, but it has its compensations, says Steve Hooker - especially being able to observe more closely the Australian and international scene.

"It’s not always fun being out of competition, but I am enjoying watching everyone else and what they’re doing instead of being at the centre of it all. It’s a nice change.

"In Australia recently we’ve seen Craig Mottram and Nathan Deakes back in competition and Jana Rawlinson back training. They are three senior members of our team and it’s great to see them back and even better if they can return to their best this year and next year.

"Then you’ve got Mitch Watt back after missing last year’s northern hemisphere season, Henry Frayne is coming through to elite level in the triple jump and my own training partner, Alana Boyd, cleared 4.60m on the weekend.

"Then there was Renauld Lavillenie’s 6.03 in the European indoors. Teddy Tamgho’s world record in the triple jump aside, I think the two pole vault competitions were the highlight of the championships.

"Anna Rogowska cleared 4.85 to win the women’s event and looked good at (4)91 as well. That’s got to be good for her confidence. She’s going to be pretty competitive in the big competitions coming up.

"Jenn Suhr is jumping well, too, so we’ll probably see four or five women at 4.80 regularly, which we’ve never really seen before. The general level of the women’s event is improving.

"Lavillenie jumping 6.03 – it’s good to see that and my congratulations to him on a fantastic jump.

"He looked solid at 5.91 and 6.03, solid as a rock. It looks like any competition he could come out and jump 5.90. When you’re in that kind of headspace, when you’re in that kind of form, it really lifts your confidence. I’m sure his confidence will be sky-high at the moment.

"Brad Walker seems to be back in shape as well. He had trouble at the US indoors, but just in his warm-up, his jumps were solid. He seems to be on top of his injury problems at last.

"The past couple of years we’ve had one or two at the top level jumping really well but the level below that has dropped off. Now, we’ve got a whole heap of guys who have jumped over 5.80 and I think all the major competitions are going to be competitive up to that level.

"I think this year there’s going to be 6-7 guys jumping when the bar gets up to 5.80, so it’s going to be an interesting year, a competitive year, and I’m looking forward to being part of that.

"The other big thing recently was the last international meeting at Olympic Park. As a Melbourne boy, I grew up going to the athletics at Olympic Park.

"I’ve been going there since I was about 10 years old, whether it’s watching the Melbourne Track Classic or competing at the school sports.

"There are a lot of good memories there for me. The earliest I can remember is watching Jimmy Miller and Simon Arkell both jumping at 5.70 one night, which was pretty solid jumping for those boys back in mid-90s. Jimmy eventually won with 5.75, an Australian record.

"It was the first time I really paid attention to a pole vault competition. I remember being excited about it that night.

"Then, from 2005 to 2010, I won at the Melbourne meeting six years in a row from people like Yevgeniy Lukyanenko and Brad Walker, six metre jumpers who came out and competed.

"It was always my home track, and I always felt good jumping there and was confident jumping there. I never cleared massive heights - it’s not the easiest place to jump - but I always felt I got the most out of it.

"I believe the move to the new centre at Albert Park is going to be a positive one. Having Athletics Victoria and Athletics Australia based there is a plus. It’s important for the administration to be in close touch with the athletes.

"The downside is the sentimental attachment to Olympic Park and its association with the 1956 Olympic Games. But I’m sure there will be future times when a major athletics event is staged at the MCG.

"I think Albert Park will be a venue everyone can use, a new venue that’s going to be a modern venue for the next 20-30 years.

"It will be a good move for everyone."

Steven