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Big Olympic boost for Hooker
John Salvado
10:14 AEST Sun Jul 22 2012

Reigning Olympic pole vault champion Steve Hooker has breathed new life into his flagging title defence with his best performance in two years.

After failing to record a single clearance at his last two meets, the Australian track and field team captain produced a dramatic turnaround in form in his last meet before the London Games.

Hooker cleared 5.72m to finish third at the Szczecin Janusz Kusocinski Memorial meet in Poland on Saturday night behind British winner Steve Lewis (5.82m) and American Brad Walker (5.72m).

It was a dramatic form reversal for Hooker, who had failed to vault any higher than 5.42m since booking his spot on the Australian Olympic team at his indoor training venue in Perth in early May.

"All along I have been saying I actually feel alright, I have been doing things pretty well and just been in challenging competitions so in a way tonight showed that it wasn't all smoke and mirrors," said Hooker.

"I had a really good session during the week, that is a really big part of it.

"I stayed in London for a few extra days and stayed with Steve Lewis - we both felt really good and felt really confident coming into this competition.

"The 5.72 was a really good jump.

"That was the best jump I have done in a couple of years now and I was really happy with that."

Hooker was relieved to finally get the chance to vault in decent conditions, having frequently encountered bad weather during his northern hemisphere campaign.

"We have been working on the right things and working on the right stuff, it's just been hard on competition day," said Hooker.

"It doesn't change anything for me in the big sense.

"I feel like we've been heading in the right direction and everything has been going well enough.

" ... It's going to be a big event in London, it was just good to get a couple of good jumps in.

"That sort of performance in the qualifying round would be good enough for the final and then anything can happen."

In other action in Poland, Benn Harradine (64.92m) was second in the discus behind Lithuania's Virgilijus Alekna (68.50m) and Lauren Boden was fifth in the women's 400m hurdles in 56.69.

Australian Olympic 4x100m relay squad member Joshua Ross produced his fastest time of the year, clocking 10.23 at a meet in Italy.

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