charge’ at home in Perth, Steve Hooker returned to rare air with a 5.95-metre clearance in Sydney on 28 February. Five competitions in the USA and Europe in 20 days left him a little flat, but he found the way to beat jet lag, was to take a nap, put the laundry on, and go and watch others exercise …
“I hardly got to spend any time at home in Perth after my return from Europe. I was there for just four days.
“I got off the plane, had about six hours sleep, put the washing machine on and then jumped on a boat and went over to ‘Rotto’ (Rottnest Island, 19km off the coast of Fremantle, Perth’s port city) for the day. It was a fantastic day, a good way to get back in the swing of things.
“It was the day of the Rottnest Swim, a long-distance ocean swim which goes from (popular Perth beach) Cottesloe to the island. You can swim solo, or in teams of two or four. There were something like 800 teams, and a couple of thousand people do the swim. A fleet of boats follows them.
“I was on a boat, not one we weren’t accompanying a team, we were just cruising across.
“It’s pretty fantastic to watch. Am I tempted to do it? Absolutely not! As a swimmer I’m no Thorpedo. I’m absolute rubbish. I can swim 50 metres pretty well, but after that I’m no good.
“Sydney and Melbourne (5 March, first 2009 leg of the World Athletics Tour) are my first competitions at home since the Olympics.
“I was a bit nervous before Sydney because I’d had a lot of travel and that sort of stuff, but I feel like I’ve pulled up really well.
“Clearing six metres three times in a row (New York, Boston, Paris) and having 12 attempts at the World record means I’m taking my jumping to the next level. I can stand at the end of the runway with the bar set at ‘six’ and know that it’s achievable on any given day. It doesn’t have to be a really exceptional day.
“It has given me a different perspective on the World record. It’s more tangible. I can now talk with some sort of education about what it’s like to jump a bar like that and how close I am to it, and now I know what needs to be done to jump that high.
“Sydney has been a kind venue to me. One of my biggest moments was making the team for the Athens Olympics; that happened there.
“Melbourne is my hometown, with family and friends there. I’ve won there the last four years and I’m not going to give up that streak. It’s exciting jumping against Yevgeniy (Lukyanenko) and Tim Mack but I’ve jumped against high-quality competition in those other years and won, and I want to do that again.”