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Hooker to keep jumping this year
By John Salvado and Crystal Ja
08:16 AEST Sat Aug 11 2012

Steve Hooker insists he remains on the up and up, despite bombing out in the Olympic pole vault final without recording a single clearance.

The Beijing gold medallist has endured a fiendishly difficult 12 months after suffering a case of the yips and being forced to rebuild his technique.

An equal season's best of 5.72m on the eve of the Games at a meet in Poland and a straightforward progression through the qualifying round on Wednesday suggested he was back to something approaching his best.

But it all went wrong in the final as Hooker passed at the opening height of 5.50m and then missed three times at 5.65m, with his final attempt the only one coming close to clearing the bar.

He watched the remainder of the competition won by Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie from the infield, looking away only to encourage his Russian girlfriend Katya Kostetskaya, who was ninth in the 1500m final.

"It was bittersweet, but more on the bitter side," said the 30-year-old.

"I gave it as good a crack as I could today.

"It just didn't quite happen, but it was close.

"I was positive until the moment I jumped down on the mat.

It's been very, very hard over the last few months.

"The physical side of things, the mental side of things, I've had every issue that you can imagine to overcome.

"I feel like my old self on the runway and that's pretty gratifying."

Hooker plans to keep vaulting for the remainder of the European season, confident his form is improving, despite what happened on Friday night.

At least it wasn't as bad as last year's world championships in Daegu, where he ran through all three of his qualifying attempts.

"It seems so cheap to talk about anything after the Olympic Games," he said.

"I want to continue the season, I want to see where it goes.

"Jumping high after this won't change what this all means, but I need a bit of validation after all the hard work I've put in."

Lavillenie won the gold medal with an Olympic record of 5.97m - one centimetre higher than Hooker jumped four years ago in Beijing.

Bjorn Otto (5.91m) took the silver medal ahead of fellow German Raphael Holzdeppe on a countback.

Lavillenie took two unsuccessful attempts at 6.07m to end the competition.

Had he cleared the height the Frenchman would have moved to second on the alltime list behind the great Sergey Bubka.

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