Steve Hooker is already in Daegu preparing to defend his world title. With limited competition this year, it will be no easy task.
“I’m going to be defending the world title with all I have, but it’s going to be a big job.
“I think if everything had gone perfectly going in, if I knew that I was going in in career-best shape, that would be important to me.
“But I’ve got to be realistic about it. I want to go into this championship and I want to jump well. That’s all I want. If I go in there and feel like I’ve jumped well - then it’s been a successful championship and a good step towards next year. That’s really the main focus.
“Having said that, I’m sure I’m going to get really competitive once I’m out there and I’ll want to be the guy who wins the competition, as I am at every competition I go to, but in reality there’s going to be others who have had a lot better preparation.
“So I’m going to have to do something really special to beat guys who have been consistently jumping high this year off the training and competition that I’ve had. That’s just the reality of my situation.
“I came here with the Australian team on Monday (15 August). We’re the first team here, the only team here.
“We had to have a training camp, so why not in Daegu? Get used to the conditions, work out how you’re going to handle the heat. I think that’s going to be a big issue at these championships.
“It’s nice to be here and living in the conditions we’re going to be competing in. I’m in a light training week at the moment, one session a day, adjusting to the heat and the time change. Then a few jumping sessions and maybe simulate what happens in competition.
“I was here back in 2003 for the World University Games. It was a great Village and a great atmosphere when we were here.
“I had high expectations based on what they did then and, from a Village perspective, they’ve lived up to those. I’m sure we’ll have good crowds and that it’s going to be a good atmosphere in the stadium.
“I’m pretty sure the Village is in a relatively new part of the city so, in a way, things have changed, but we’re going to be in a stadium that we competed in in 2003, so some things stay the same.
“As for any advantage that gives, I know what the stadium looks like and that’s about it. The kind of jumper I was back in 2003 I don’t think I’m going to take much from that experience other than I’ve been inside the stadium and I can visualize what it’ll be like to stand on the end of the runway.
“I’d like to get in there, have a look around, check it out – maybe have a jump in there if it’s possible.
“As to my performance, I feel like I’m capable of jumping well. I’ve had some really good training sessions since the last competition, and that’s what I really needed, to get some good jumps in, get some consistency happening.
“I think I’m jumping well enough to jump high. I love championships, so I’m just looking forward to getting out there and feeling that adrenalin that goes with a major championship.
“That, to me, is what the whole season has been leading up to. I’m excited about that opportunity.
“In terms of preparation, I probably haven’t done enough. But I’ve done all I could do. I can’t dwell on what I’ve missed and what I might have done. I’m just going to try and make the most of the preparation I’ve had and try to have a result that reflects the positive end of my preparation.
“There’s a few interesting new contenders. Pawel Wojciechowski from Poland jumped 5.86 indoors and won at the World Military Games in Rio with 5.81. He seems to be getting his stuff together.
“It will be his first major championships, though, so that’s always a nervous one. You just never know with these guys, but there’s a whole new, strong group from that 1987 year all jumping really well. A major championships tends to be time when some of them jump ‘pb’s, so if anyone in that group around 5.70-75 can do that they’re a contender.
“With the exception of (Renaud) Lavillenie, it’s a really open bunch below that level.
“We’ll see what happens.”
- Steven Hooker of Australia on his way to winning gold in the Pole Vault (Getty Images) © Copyright