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Date
22 Aug 2008
Tags
Beijing 2008 , Athletics , pole vault , Australia , HOOKER, Steve

Steve Hooker

While the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium crowd in Beijing was still buzzing after the Jamaican 4x100m relay world record at the Olympic Games in 2008, an Australian was quietly going about his business on the way to his own landmark gold. As the crowd lauded the Usain Bolt-inspired quartet on their lap of honour , Steve Hooker was maintaining his focus superbly in an incredibly tight pole vault competition.

The flame-haired Western Australian, whose Commonwealth Games title on home soil two years previously had been his only major competition win to that point, showed composure again and again just as it seemed he faced elimination.

Even in qualifying Hooker lived on the edge. He entered the competition at 5.65m but only cleared on his third attempt.

vLearning from his near-catastrophic mistake, Hooker confidently cleared 5.60m in the final before sitting it out until the bar had reached 5.80m.

Only Hooker and Russian Evgeny Lukyanenko remained in the competition with the bar at 5.80m and again the Australian kept his supporters on tenterhooks.

After Lukyanenko cleared at the first attempt, Hooker made his rivals wait until his third attempt before soaring over the bar.
The tension was cranked up further as both Hooker and Lukyanenko, effectively the only athletes remaining, cleared 5.85m at the third attempt.

With the Jamaican relay furore causing a huge distraction in the stadium, the two kept their focus superbly.

Lukyanenko then failed at 5.90m three times and it was left to Hooker to assess the scale of the task confronting him.

Hooker exhaled a huge gasp of air on the runway and hurtled down the track towards the bar.

The green and gold-clad Hooker sailed over the bar, plunged into the landing mat with his head in his hands before running to his trackside entourage in a state of disbelief.

The gold was his, the first track and field title for Australia since Cathy Freeman’s win in Sydney 2000 and the first by an Austrlalian man since Ralph Doubell won the 800m 30 years earlier in Mexico City.

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