01 MAR 2009 General News Sydney, Australia

Hooker’s poles vault through the roof in Sydney airport

Steve Hooker with his poles literally through the roof of Sydney airport (Jacinta Boyd)Steve Hooker with his poles literally through the roof of Sydney airport (Jacinta Boyd) © Copyright

Commuters at Virgin airlines domestic terminal in Sydney were inconvenienced this morning when the downwards escalator was jammed for 45 minutes by Olympic gold medallist Steve Hooker's bag of vaulting poles.

Following competing at yesterday’s Sydney Track Classic, Hooker and training partner Paul "Budgie'' Burgess, world ranked No.2 in 2006, were carrying the 5.20m-long fibreglass poles through the airport on the way to catch a flight to Melbourne for next week’s IAAF World Athletics Tour meeting (5 March) when they faltered under the unwieldy load.

Burgess was carrying a set of poles owned by Hooker on his shoulder but they tilted as he tried to avoid a glass sign on the ceiling above the escalator.

“It was pretty shocking when it happened because it all happened really quickly,” Hooker told The Daily Telegraph.

“There was a bit of a glass ledge and Budgie avoided that with the poles and he was trying to do the right thing by turning around to tell me to avoid the glass and that's when his poles went into the wall.”

“He was actually trying to do a really good thing, but it didn't work out that well for him.”

“And then all of a sudden the poles we're just into the wall and then wedged into the step on the escalator and then it was all out control ... they all started to go up into the roof and the poles in the bag started to bend.”

Fortunately some quick-thinking commuter pressed the emergency stop button otherwise the six poles, each valued at $800 would eventually have shattered.

Hooker said the poles were eventually freed 45 minutes later when a technician came and reversed the escalator.

The athletes meanwhile had missed their flight to Melbourne.

Hooker said Burgess is OK, just a little shaken up.

“Budgie's alright. He was a bit shocked initially. It was pretty full-on,” Hooker said. “He was all covered by plaster from the roof and sort of coughing from the plaster dust. It was funny as.”

Mike Hurst (Sydney Daily Telegraph) for the IAAF