12 APR 2014 General News Melbourne, Australia

Australian pole vault star Steve Hooker retires

Steven Hooker of Australia celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's Pole Vault final at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics (Getty Images)Steven Hooker of Australia celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's Pole Vault final at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics (Getty Images) © Copyright

Australia’s greatest ever pole vaulter Steve Hooker has called time on his outstanding athletics career and announced his retirement on Saturday (12).

Now 31, Hooker won three global titles during his time at the top; gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games, 2009 IAAF World Championships and 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships.

Hooker holds the Oceania Area and Australian pole vault record with 6.06m, a height he cleared indoors in Boston in 2009. He had five competitions at 6.00m or higher, all in his heyday between 2008 and 2010.

However, he has battled with injuries in recent years.

“I think this decision began last year on my birthday (16 July) when I was doing a vault session that didn’t go well,” reflected Hooker.

“I had a long chat with my coach Dan (Pfaff) and he gave me the freedom to take a break and assess whether it was something I wanted to continue. I came back to Australia and have been fortunate enough to be involved with a lot of things that have brought me great enjoyment and in many ways I haven’t had an urge to go back to vaulting.

“This made it clear that I needed to decide what the future would be, and after some serious thought I’ve decided to move onto the next phase of my life and focus on new things that bring me as much joy as athletics has for the past 15 or so years.”

Hooker brought the curtain down on his career on Saturday with a couple of valedictory races, a 200m and a leg of the 4x100m, for his club Box Hill on home soil at the Athletics Victoria Shield Final in Melbourne.

“After I run today I will effectively be retired from all forms of athletics and I Iook forward to the next chapter of my life with my family and friends,” Hooker said.

“I think in a lot of ways I have been holding out for a happy ending to my jumping that delivered a great result to finish on. I have come to terms with the fact that this perhaps wasn’t possible,” Hooker said.

“I now know that it is humbling to finish under circumstances that perhaps weren’t expected rather than on a massive high. It is more symbolic of my battles as an athlete across the years, because it has been a challenge at times and it was the difficulty and unpredictability of the pole vault that initially drew me to it.”

 Hooker has now established a base for his young family in Melbourne, as a new father to son Maxim and husband to fellow athlete and middle-distance runner Yekaterina Kostetskaya.

“Family is my biggest priority now. Being a husband and a father is amazing, and I love the change from being an individual athlete with just me to worry about,” he added.

“I can now spend time supporting Katya in achieving what she wants in her career. She has done so much already but she has results that suggest she is more than capable of doing more and I want to be able to assist as much as I can in making that happen.

“I have a passion for developing athletes and I want to make sure that I stay involved with the sport to ensure that as many young athletes as possible are afforded the chance to reach their potential. I have learnt a lot in my time and I want to share that with those that are trying to emulate what I have. My experiences have been immense and I think it is vital that those athletes finishing up share that knowledge with those coming through.”

Athletics Australia President David Grace QC extended his congratulations on Hooker’s great achievements and encouraged him to remain active within the sport.

“The name Steve Hooker is synonymous with athletics in this country, but more than that it is synonymous with sportsmanship, hard work, dedication and unrivalled commitment to achieving what you set out to. I congratulate him on a stunning career and wish him every success in the future,” said Grace.

Athletics Australia for the IAAF

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