Friday, 29 June 2012
Defending pole vault champion Steve Hooker admits a medal at the London Olympics is not a realistic ambition, although he's working on it.
Hooker has failed to recapture his form after returning to competition following a crushing lack of confidence on the runway and says he has a lot of work to do to catch up to the current leading crop of vaulters.
Since clearing 5.72 metres at his specially prepared indoor training facility in Perth in May to qualify for the Games, Hooker has not leapt beyond 5.42m in competition in Europe, while his rivals for gold are reaching into the 5.90s.
Germany's Malte Moher leapt 5.91m in Ingolstadt last week, one centimetre higher than French gold medal favourite Renaid Lavillenie, while German Bjorn Otto has cleared 5.82m.
"I think it's pretty clear that there's a lot of guys jumping really well right now," Hooker told AAP from his base in Cologne.
"There's probably four guys who could go out and jump 5.90 in that Olympic final.
"I would like to win a medal, that would be great. And I'm working towards being in the position where I can say with confidence that's going to happen.
"But right now, that's probably not the reality. My reality is it's going to be a challenge to go out there and jump at a level where I can make the final.
"If I can be in that final, maybe I can contend for a medal. Nothing's a certainty and it's going to take a lot of hard work."
Hooker put his Olympic title defence in doubt when he pulled out of Australia's domestic season in February with a serious case of the yips.
The 2009 world champion says his comeback has been mentally and physically hard, but he's making progress even if it's yet to translate into results.
Three years after setting the second highest leap of all time with 6.06m, he failed to clear a height in his return to international competition at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting in May and has since finished sixth, eighth and sixth with clearances of 5.42m, 5.20m and 5.42m in Europe.
"It's been a difficult couple of competitions," he said.
"The heights haven't really been there, but I've been doing good work at training, which is the benchmark I've been setting.
"We're hoping for better results out of the coming group of competitions and trying to build off them toward London."
Hooker, 29, hopes to compete at a low key event in Leverkusen this weekend, followed by Madrid next week and the London Diamond League meeting at Crystal Palace on July 13-14, two weeks before the Olympic opening ceremony.
He's remaining positive and believes he has time to get it right for London.
"I feel like I'm getting more rhythm off my full approach and getting more consistency," he said.
"I wouldn't say anything's 100 percent right now, but it's all building."