Updated: Saturday, 12 April 2014 09:45 | By Agence France-Presse

Australian pole vault champion Hooker retires

Australia's Olympic and world pole vault champion Steve Hooker said Saturday he was retiring from competition, citing mental fatigue.


Australian pole vault champion Hooker retires

Australia's Steve Hooker with his gold medal after winning the pole vault at the XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi on October 12, 2010 - by Manan Vatsyayana

Hooker, 31, said it was not the way he expected his illustrious career to finish: in prime physical condition, but mentally burnt out.

"I honestly thought the body would be the one that would give way, and that would be the end. But it has almost been the opposite," Hooker told reporters.

Hooker's halcyon days were in 2008-2010, a period when he held every major pole vault title available: Olympic, world outdoor, world indoors, Commonwealth Games.

His rise to the top of the sport was spectacular, starting with victory at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

Hooker won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in dramatic fashion, making third attempt clearances at several heights before winning with an Olympic record jump of 5.96 metres.

That was also the year he produced his personal best vault of 6.06m which places him third on the all-time list behind Renaud Lavillenie, who cleared 6.16m in February this year, and the great Sergey Bubka (6.15m).

"The name Steve Hooker is synonymous with athletics in this country, but more than that it is synonymous with sportsmanship, hard work, dedication and unrivalled commitment to achieving what you set out to," Athletics Australia president David Grace said in a statement.

Hooker's final pole vault competition was in the United States last June.

"The only thing I was holding out for with my jumping was perhaps a happy ending, a great result to finish on," he said.

"It was ultimately the challenge of it all and the difficulty of the event that drove me to it and got me hooked.

"It's an event that it's really impossible to conquer permanently."

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