Aiming to hook gold, again

Aussie pole vaulting giant is determined to retain top-dog status

Aiming to hook gold, again

“The last Commonwealth Games was in my home country and it was my first major gold medal. So that was a big deal for me and I want to defend my title,” said the World and Olympic champion, who arrived here on Wednesday night.

Even in a galaxy of stars, Hooker would have held his place but now, with an array of champions having withdrawn from the event, the Aussie is one of the biggest draws in track and field.

“I didn’t have any apprehensions about coming here. I was looking forward to it the whole year,” said Hooker. “It is the last competition of the year for me and it’s an important one from that perspective.

“It was an anxious travel from the airport to the Village, but nothing to be concerned about. Everything went smoothly, security seemed to be abundant, and everything seemed fine in the Village. Everyone was friendly and the atmosphere is great.”

Hooker broke the Olympic record to strike gold in spectacular fashion at the Beijing Olympic Games with an effort of 5.96 metres. It was the first gold claimed by an Aussie track and field athlete since Cathy Freeman’s 400M title at Sydney 2000 and the first by a male athlete in 40 years.

At the World Championships in Berlin last year, the tall Victorian then underlined his class with another gold medal, after clearing 5.90M despite struggling with a groin injury. He stretched that winning form to the World Indoor Championships in Doha earlier this year but it had been a tough ride from then on, till the Continental Championships in Split where he triumphed on September 4.

“It was challenging in the middle of the season. My main goal was the Indoor Worlds in March and my second was in Split in September. They fetched my best results and I am quite happy with my performance. It is long season but still, I am keen to produce my best results at the Commonwealth Games,” said Hooker, who has a personal best of 6.00 metres outdoors and 6.09 indoors.

“Yes, I have gone a few times over six metres. It feels good to jump these heights. Hopefully, I can clear that height here as well. But it is a challenging championship for me because I had to maintain my form through the entire European season.

“I have been focusing hard on this event from that perspective. I have been working and training hard during the European season so that I will be in good shape when I reach here,” said the 28-year-old, who faces the task of defending another title next year when the World Championships come along in Daegu, South Korea.

“Next year, there is only goal and that makes it easier compared to these competitions spread over the year. The World Championship is my main focus, and I will have to work hard and maintain focus so that I get everything right there,”

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