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Hooker impressed by vault world record

17 February 2014

Steve Hooker would love to have been the man to finally consign one of pole vault supremo Sergey Bubka's world records to the history books.

Five years ago, as the reigning world and Olympic champion, the Australian looked the athlete most likely to challenge Bubka's legendary outdoor and indoor world marks, which had stood unchallenged since the early 1990s.

Hooker's life has since taken a different tack, the Australian now a husband and proud father, budding TV star and club-level sprinter.

The 31-year-old still hasn't ruled out a return to vaulting.

But right now, it's on the backburner, with family the No.1 priority and his Russian wife Katya Kostetskaya eyeing a return to the track in the 800m for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

After high-profile disappointments at the 2011 world titles and the London Olympics, Hooker split with long-time coach Alex Parnov and spent time past year in the US with the squad of Dan Pfaff, the coach of 1996 Olympic 100m champion Donovan Bailey.

"I'm not retired but I'm just doing the sport to enjoy it right now," Hooker told AAP.

"The last few years of pole vaulting were not a lot of fun for me.

"But I had a really positive experience going to Arizona and training with Dan.

"I haven't jumped since July last year but I am still in shape.

"I feel like I'm running fast enough, I'm strong enough and fit enough that if I wanted to have another go at it, I could.

"It's a more complicated decision than people understand and I want to take my time with that decision."

Bubka's indoor world mark of 6.15m and outdoor best of 6.14m had both stood for 20 years before Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie soared over 6.16m indoors in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Saturday.

Hooker, who still sits third on the alltime indoor world list with 6.06m, estimates he had half a dozen cracks at Bubka's marks throughout his career.

"I got to the point where I had my head around jumping the height and it was just a matter of putting it into practice on a particular day," he said.

"But you don't get many opportunities.

"There have only been four or five guys in the last 20 years who have got to a point in a competition where they have put the bar up to that mark and probably only two or three of them were actually realistic chances of jumping it.

"You've got to have had a season and a number of years in a row where you have got to a level mentally where you can jump at the height.

"And in that competition you need to have retained enough energy and be at that optimal point when you're attempting the world record."

Hooker is satisfying his competitive urge by contesting the sprints for his club Box Hill and will have a crack at the 200m at the upcoming Victorian titles.

AAP

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