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Posted: January 31, 2009  :

(TPR) Athletics: Hooker Vaults 6.01M [19-8 ¾], Challenges WR At Millrose Games

From Bob Ramsak
© 2009 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved


Olympic pole vault champion Steve Hooker cleared 6.01m [19-8 ¾] and challenged Sergey Bubka’s 15-year-old world record in the event to highlight the 102nd edition of the Millrose Games in New York on Friday night.

"It was a little unexpected,” said Hooker, whose first attempt clearance elevated the 26-year-old Australian to No. 4 on the all-time list indoors. And with three strong attempts at a would-be 6.16m [20-2 ½] world record, he clearly signaled that much more could be in store.

"My last jump (at the world record), I felt, was really, really good. I probably just need a bigger pole and I'll get closer.”

In his first competition since winning Olympic gold in Beijing, Hooker sealed the victory with a first attempt clearance at 5.70m [18-8 ½], then improved to 5.88m [19-3 ½] on his third attempt to add a centimeter to the Millrose Games record. His 6.01m effort also bettered his own career best of 6.00m [19-8 ¼] set a year ago at home in Perth, and was the highest ever indoor vault on U.S. soil, eclipsing Bubka’s 6.00m jump in Los Angeles set in February 1992.

Hooker will remain on the U.S. east coast this week with his next appearance scheduled for next Saturday’s Reebok Boston Indoor Games.

Olympian Derek Miles of the U.S. was a distant second, topping out at 5.70m.

Synonymous with the Millrose Games is the meet’s signature event, the men’s Wanamaker mile. And in recent years, nobody’s performed better on the narrow 145.5m track than Bernard Lagat. Last night Lagat captured his seventh victory to equal Irishman Eamonn Coghlan's feat, earning the moniker, ‘Co-Chairman of the Boards’. But it wasn’t that easy.

With a lap-and-a-half to go, Olympic 1500m bronze medallist Nick Willis burst past Lagat on the backstretch but a lap later he regrouped to sail home in 3:58.44 to the New Zealander’s 3:59.48.

“Today, winning seven like (Coghlan) means a lot to me,” said Lagat, the 2007 1500/5000m world champion. “He is a man who was rooting for me today.”

Lagat has two more appearances on his slate this winter; next up is a 3000m race in Stuttgart next Saturday.

In all, seven world leading marks were registered.

Jenn Stuczynski, the Olympic silver medallist in the pole vault, won her first Millrose title with a 4.71m leap, defeating U.S. indoor record holder Stacy Dragila. The latter, on a comeback from injury, cleared 4.61m, her best effort since 2004.

Stuczynski, the national record holder outdoors, nearly erased Dragila’s name from the record books with a solid attempt at 4.82m before hitting the bar on the way down.

Michael Rodgers, last year’s top U.S. indoor sprinter, won the 60m with a personal best and world-leading 6.51, edging Terrence Trammell by 0.03 seconds.

"It's pretty awesome, but I had to sit in the blocks because of the false start,” said Rodgers, who was fourth at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain, last March. “It's a pretty good opening for me. It's a PR, so I'm pretty happy. My start was OK, so-so. I didn't panic because I know I have top-end speed."

2008 relay Olympian Travis Padgett, who last week said that among his goals this season is Maurice Greene’s decade-old 6.39 world record, false started and never reached the finish line.

Earlier, Trammell dominated the 60m hurdles, winning in 7.45, also a world leader.

The women’s hurdles featured a Beijing rematch between 100m hurdles silver and bronze medalists Sally McLellan of Australia and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Canada. McClellan led throughout until the Canadian lurched ahead to win by a hair in 7.95 to the Australian’s 7.96.

Bianca Knight won the women’s 60m in 7.23, defeating U.S. Olympic Trials champion Muna Lee (7.28).

Kara Goucher, currently in the midst of an 80-mile week in preparation for April’s Boston Marathon, crushed the field in the mile, clocking 4:33.19 to win by more than four seconds over Serbian Marina Muncan (4:37.77). She’ll reward herself with an 18 mile training run on Sunday.

The men’s shot put wasn’t decided until the fourth and final round. Reigning world indoor champion Christian Cantwell moved past Rees Hoffa with a 20.53m [67-4 ¼] toss, only to be bettered by twice Olympic silver medallist Adam Nelson who reached 20.79m [68-2 ½] with his final effort to defend his Millrose title.

Elsewhere, in her final Millrose appearance, Amy Acuff won the high jump with a 1.92m leap over Chaunte Howard.

The first stop of USA Track and Field's 2009 Indoor Visa Championship Series, the Millrose Games will be broadcast by NBC from 1:30-2:30 p.m. eastern time later today.

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