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HOOKER Steve
HOOKER Steve

Steve HOOKER

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Australia’s pole vault king

Steve Hooker’s feats in the pole vault have only been bettered by one man, the legendary Sergey Bubka. His Olympic gold at Beijing 2008 was just the crowning glory in a career that has been packed with titles and records.

Bettered only by Bubka

In 2009, at the Boston Indoor Grand Prix, pole vaulter Steve Hooker cleared 6.06m. Only one man in history - Ukrainian pole vault legend Sergey Bubka - has ever vaulted higher. The Australian is part of a very small band of pole vaulters to jump over 6m on a regular basis, Hooker won the gold medal at Beijing 2008 with an Olympic record vault of 5.96m and needed only two jumps to become world champion at Berlin in 2009, clearing 5.90m after opening up with a failure at 5.85m.

Sport in the blood

The Melbourne-born Hooker was in a sense programmed for speed and height from birth. His father Bill was a four-time Australian 800m champion and his mother Erica represented the country in the long jump at the Munich Games in 1972. However, the first sport at which the young Steve excelled was not athletics but Australian rules football, which he played at national level; though it would not be long before pole vaulting caught his eye. “I was doing a training run at Box Hill athletics club when I saw the former women’s world record holder Emma George practising,” he said. It proved to be his moment of epiphany. “I was intrigued and I said to myself it would be a great challenge. I’ve never looked back since then.”

Reaching for the sky

Making steady progress, Hooker made the Australia team for Athens 2004 and the Worlds in Helsinki in 2005, but failed to qualify from the heats on either occasion. In 2006 he won the Commonwealth title with a vault of 5.80m, and on 27 January 2008 in Perth he became only the 15th pole vaulter in history to go beyond the fabled 6m mark.

Golden years

At Beijing’s National Stadium on 22 August 2008, Hooker became the first male Australian to claim gold in a track and field event since Ralph Doubell won the 800m in Mexico City in 1968. Having already cleared 5.85m and made sure of victory over Russia’s Yevgeny Lukyanenko on countback, he then jumped 5.90m and went on to set a new Olympic record of 5.96m, clearing the height at his third attempt. With his world championship triumph in Berlin the following year and his world indoors victory in Doha at the start of 2010, which was sealed with a championship-record vault of 6.01m, he became the first athlete to hold the Olympic, world indoor and outdoor, continental and Commonwealth titles at the same time.

A new approach

After being knocked out in the heats at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, Hooker decided on a unique preparation plan for the London Olympic Games, training with the latest high-tech equipment at a disused railway depot in Perth. Yet though he reached the final at London 2012, he missed his first three attempts, a setback that prompted him to make another change to his training set-up. Having turned 30, he has now joined up with coach Dan Pfaff in Arizona in a bid to get back on the medal trail and add further lustre to an already glittering career.

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Results

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    Result
    Sport
    Event
  • G 5.96
    Athletics
    pole vault men


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