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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Struggling Hooker pulls out of Perth Classic - He's got the yips

Struggling Hooker pulls out of Perth Classic - He's got the yips

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http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/london-olympics/struggling-steve-hooker-pulls-out-of-perth-track-classic/story-fn9dheyx-1226264480584

Struggling Steve Hooker pulls out of Perth Track Classic

by: Scott Gullan
From:Herald Sun
February 07, 2012



Steve Hooker clears the bar in the early rounds of last month's Adelaide Track Classic at Santos Stadium. Hooker will miss the Perth Track Classic. Picture: Jo-anna Robinson Source: Sunday Mail (SA)

OLYMPIC pole vault champion Steve Hooker is fighting a serious confidence issue which is threatening the defence of his crown in London.

And the immediate future of another of Australia's star athletes, Jana Pittman, is again up in the air after she suffered a foot injury over the weekend.

The alarm bells have been sounding about Hooker's preparation for some time but they reached tipping point today when he pulled out of Saturday's Perth Track Classic.

His problems started last year when a chronic knee injury kept him sidelined for months and he went into the world championships in Daegu, South Korea, badly underdone.

Hooker, the defending champion, failed to clear a height in the competition and ever since then he has battled a case of the "yips".

He competed in Adelaide a fortnight ago but could only clear 5.00m off a modified six-step run-up.

He was expected to stretch that out to 10, possibly even his full run-up, on his home track in Perth but instead has decided to step away from competition until he can fix his confidence issues.

Hooker suffered a similar problem as a junior, taking almost 12 months to recover, before kick-starting an incredible run which saw him elevated to one of the greatest pole vaulters in history.

Athletics Australia high performance manager Eric Hollingsworth confirmed his star athlete would be taking time out.

Hooker, who hasn't qualified for the London Olympics, is certain to miss the Olympic trials in Melbourne on March 2-3. He will have until June to get his mojo back and make the team.

Pittman's comeback went off the rails on Saturday when she was forced to pull out of a club meet half-way through a 400m race.

The two-time world 400m hurdles champion had a scan yesterday which confirmed she was suffering from a planta-facia problem.

"It's not ruptured which is actually not good news," Hollingsworth said.

"She's obviously out of Perth and will have at least a week off the foot and then we'll try to get her going, hopefully for Sydney (February 18)."

Pittman has had a horror run with injuries over recent years but was desperate to get herself right for a crack at the London Olympics.

She ran her first 400m hurdles race for almost 12 months last week at a club meet at Albert Park where she struggled home in blustery conditioning, recording a time of 58.5sec.

Another big-name on the injury list is javelin thrower Kimberley Mickle, a finalist in Daegu last year, who has also withdrawn from the Perth meet.

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http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/12839875/hooker-games-bid-hits-snag/

Hooker Games bid hits snag

Gene Stephan,
The West Australian
February 8, 2012,


Olympic pole vault champion Steve Hooker's London campaign is in jeopardy as he prepares to sit out the entire domestic series.

The 29-year-old has withdrawn from Saturday's big international event, the Go for 2&5 Track Classic at his home stadium in Perth, and is expected to announce soon he will not compete again until May.

This will include Olympic selection trials in Melbourne in the first week of March where he must win with an A-qualifying standard of 5.72m to be guaranteed selection for London.

His only other hope would be for a discretionary spot from national selectors who could add him to the Olympic squad providing he achieves at least two other A-qualifying marks by the June deadline for final nominations.

But at this stage he does not have a single qualifying mark.

Hooker, who in 2010 held the Olympic, world outdoor, world indoor and Commonwealth Games titles, has spent the past 18 months battling injury and technical problems.

After overcoming his injury woes he was hoping for a return to his best as one of only a handful of 6m men in the world.

However, he has been struggling with his technique and in particular his run-up, which was responsible for ruining his world championship defence in Daegu, South Korea in August last year where he failed to register a height.

It is hoped that by withdrawing from all competition over the next three months he would be able to focus on his technique, allowing him to compete with greater confidence, which has been lacking for some time.

Steve Lawrence, the head of the WA Institute of Sport where Hooker trains, said a series of meetings had been held over the past few days to discuss the best way forward for Hooker.

"What we have to establish is what is the best way to prepare Steve for the outcome he is hoping for and that is Olympic representation," Lawrence said.

"By backing off now may give him the best possible chance at the Games, but that decision has not yet been made and is still being considered by support staff including his coach Alex Parnov."

Lawrence said everything was being done to ensure Hooker had the best chance of being ready to defend his title in London.
Since jumping 6.01m to win the world indoor title in Doha in 2010, his best in major competition was 5.60m at the Commonwealth Games.

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3 Be the Ball, Steve on Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:15 am

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http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/how-pole-vault-champion-steve-hooker-lost-his-pole-jo/story-e6frexni-1226266145277

How pole vault champion Steve Hooker lost his pole-jo

Mike Hurst
The Daily Telegraph
February 09, 201212:00AM
3 comments


OLYMPIC pole vault gold medallist Steve Hooker has developed a bad case of what golfers call "the yips", casting doubt over his ability to successfully defend his crown in London in July.

Hooker confessed yesterday he would not compete in the Australian Olympic selection trials in Melbourne on March 1-3 - or the Perth Track Classic in his adopted home town of Perth this Saturday.

The Australian athletic team's national captain explained his "auto-pilot" - the proprioceptive awareness to aggressively execute the life-threatening plant and ride of the fibreglass vaulting pole - had deserted him.

Until recently Hooker held every major title open to him - the Commonwealth Games, Continental Cup, world championship, world indoor championship and the Olympic Games - making him one of the most successful competitors from any nation in the history of athletics.

Hooker, 30, revealed he would not compete again this domestic season, putting his Olympic selection in jeopardy.

"I desperately want to defend my crown in London, I want to be there with my teammates," he writes.

"Thankfully, I believe it's achievable. I believe there's enough time and, more importantly, I believe I can get the auto-pilot switched back on. My auto-pilot is not working at the moment."

"The confidence I require to stand at the end of the runway and then charge down, land my pole and soar almost 6m into the air has left me for the time being.

"The problem is that if we take off 20cm too close or 20cm too far out the outcome isn't just a foul like for the long-jumpers, you can do serious damage to yourself."

The question now is if there is too much going through his mind or whether his thoughts are tilted toward the negative - the potentially life-threatening consequences of a bad vault. Hooker experienced the same nightmare back in 2003 when he simply couldn't bring himself to take off.

Yet, despite a debilitating knee injury, he pulled off one of the truly heroic victories at the last Olympics, clearing the bar at his third and final attempt in a feat of four-heights brinkmanship unique in Olympic history.

In 2009, at the world athletics championships in Berlin, Hooker displayed his courage when, protecting a badly bruised thigh, he restricted himself to a single jump of 5.65m in the qualifying round and then took just a single leap over 5.90m in the final, a jump which stood up for the gold medal.


Readers Comments on this story

Adam Posted at 11:36 PM February 08, 2012
I know thi sounds stupid steve but go back to what got ou ther and forget everything else. I'm not taking the piss when I say this....Just be the ball nanananananana
Comment 1 of 3


Will of Brisbane Posted at 5:02 AM February 09, 2012
Good call Adam.................... Thats what I was thinking. Be the ball Steve.Think less.
Comment 2 of 3


Scoby Posted at 8:04 AM February 09, 2012
How does this same thing affect golfers?
Comment 3 of 3


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