Australia’s former world champion Dmitri Markov believes every pole vaulter experiences the doubts which have threatened Steve Hooker’s Olympic title defence.
Markov says Hooker has made the right decision to step away from Australia’s domestic season to try to regain his confidence before it’s too late to qualify for the London Games.
“The decision he’s done is good if he decides he’s not confident and if he is scared of something,” the 2001 world champion said.
“If he was still to compete, sometimes you can get worser and worser and worser because you’ve just lost confidence.
“In my opinion, he’s not scared, but he feels something’s not right.
“When you feel like you are not ready, you lose your confidence and, when you’re not confident, you think about you don’t want to make any mistake that can get you injured.”
Markov, who cleared a championship record 6.05m to win the world title in Edmonton 11 years ago, says it’s common for doubts to creep in while so many factors go through a vaulter’s mind.
“It’s typical for pole vaulters to feel like that,” he said.
“Every pole vaulter has had these problems before. I reckon you couldn’t find anyone who is always stable.
“In sprinting or long distance running, if you’re not ready to go, you can still go even if there’s wind or rain. In pole vault, it’s different. There’s different winds, head winds, side winds, rain, even different pits, sometimes the box, makes a difference.
“There can be lots of thoughts about small things.”
Hooker beat Markov’s Australian record with a leap of 6.06m in 2009 – the second highest vault of all time – but could only manage a clearance of 5.00m in Adelaide last week.
Markov trained under Hooker’s coach Alex Parnov and believes his old mentor can help steer the Victorian out of his confidence crisis to retain his Olympic title in August.
“As long as he’s not injured,” Markov said.
Age could be another issue for Hooker who turns 30 before the Games.
Since 30-year-old Bob Richards won gold in Melbourne in 1956, every Olympic pole vault champion has been in their 20s, apart from American Timothy Mack who was 31 in 2004.
Athletics Australia’s high performance manager Eric Hollingsworth has noted that maturity can affect a pole vaulter.
“The more responsible people become as they journey through their life, the less high they jump,” he said.
“When they’re 21-22, they’re carefree, don’t care. Once they get a girlfriend, mortgage, kids, it all starts to change – they’re less risky. It’s an interesting correlation with how the pole vault works.
“To jump 6.20, which is what you’re looking for to break the world record, you’ve got to have those daredevil capabilities.”
from sports news