Embodying the Olympic Spirit (in the face of disqualification) … Steve Hooker

Steve Hooker
Steve Hooker with Gold Medal for the Pole Vault - Beijing Olympics

 

While I don’t usually make a song and dance about Gold medalists (It’s brilliant that they won, but all Olympians work damn hard to even get selected for a team, regardless of where they place on the day), I am going to say that you should remember this face.

Who is he?  If you don’t know already (although I’d be surprised if you don’t, as this man’s performance in the Men’s Pole Vault at the Beijing Games was one of the major highlights), his name is Steve Hooker and he is now the current Olympic Champion and Olympic Record Holder in the Men’s Pole Vault.

My mother (a 1956 Olympian in Shot Put) knows his mother, Erica Hooker (a 1972 Olympian in Long Jump), which meant that I actually watched his final with more interest than I’d watched most of the Games coverage.  And I’ll admit to jumping off the couch in glee (along with my mother) when he cleared that final height and won the medal.  And he’s Australian and from Melbourne – which makes him local to us – and being a Melbournian means that he’s got to be great!

But seriously, neither Steve Hooker’s performance at the Olympics and his achievement of the Gold Medal and Olympic Record in his event, or the fact that my mother knows his mother, are actually the reason why I’m featuring him.  Yes, his results are amazing achievements, and all of Australia is very proud of him, and I suppose I have a personal tie to him (in a “six degrees of separation” kind of way).

But the reason I’m featuring him here is due to one act of sportsmanship and fair play – two things we highly prize here in Oz – that hasn’t been widely reported in the news, but I think is definitely worth a mention and should be applauded.

As reported on The Herald Sun website, Steve was nearly disqualified during his event at Beijing, not for anything he’d done wrong, but because he’d warned his American competitor, Derek Miles, that the wind was proving a bit difficult for jumping – thereby helping the American to get a better result in the early rounds.

“I had an argument with an official over that, but that is just what we do.” he is quoted as saying.

“The wind was quite tricky at the start of the competition so it helps if someone tells you what it’s like at the other end of the runway.”

This may seem unusual to those who have nothing to do with the Olympics (other than as spectators).  Most of us would presume that you’re out there to win no matter what.  But speak to any Olympian and they’ll tell you that it’s about fair play and fair competition – at least that’s what the Olympians I speak to are very quick to tell me.  Apart from anything else, no matter how much you want to win, you also don’t want to see a fellow athlete injure themselves when competing (which could happen in an event like the Pole Vault if you don’t know about the wind conditions).  And you’d expect that other athletes would do the same thing for you.

Steve’s actions in the early rounds of the Men’s Pole Vault at Beijing are a true example of the Olympic Spirit.  It is about the pursuit of excellence, the comradeship of athletes and the celebration of sport.

Congratulations Steve, not only for achieving your goals and winning the gold, but for embodying the true Olympic Spirit.  Everyone in this household is even more proud of you for that.

Steve’s winning jump, courtesy of YouTube:

And another video from YouTube of Steve’s record-breaking jump filmed from the stands:

Description of the video from the author: “It was already past 11pm that night in Beijing but people hung on to witness the Olympic Record breaker by Steve Hooker from Australia as he cleared 5.96m as he won the Gold Medal in the Pole Vault.”

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