Flying higher still - Steve Hooker scales 6.06m in Boston (Victah Sailer) © Copyright
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Hooker’s rise continues - 6.06m in Boston

Boston, Massachusetts, USASteve Hooker delivered on the hype which has followed him since his 6.01m Pole Vault clearance and subsequent World Record attempts at 6.16m last weekend in New York.

Hooker entered Saturday’s (7) Reebok Boston Indoor Games competition at 5.62m, after four of the seven vaulters who entered had already finished up, and cleared that height easily. He then passed at 5.72m (where Derek Miles cleared and Darren Niedermeyer, who had passed 5.62m, missed) and cleared 5.87m on his first attempt as Miles faltered.

With the competition won, Hooker set the bar at 6.06m as the women's 5000m was on the track. After two misses, Hooker cleared on the third attempt, and in doing so, surpassed all but one pole vaulter in history indoors.

Why 6.06m? Because that gave him the Australian national record, not just indoors, but outdoors. The former mark of 6.05m was held by Dmitri Markov.

Bubka's mark is next

After clearing 6.06m, Hooker once again set the standards to 6.16m and made three more attempts at bettering Sergey Bubka's 1993 World Record of 6.15m. On the first attempt, he ran through, and on the second, he hit the bar on the way up.

"I moved the uprights back after that, and I think my third attempt was my best," Hooker said afterward. However, he had no illusions that the bar might stay on. "I hit it with pretty much everything on the way down," he said.

"6.06m was a big goal of mine," Hooker explained. "Now it's just the world record. It will happen. All I need is more attempts." Hooker may get those additional attempts; his schedule includes meets in Paris, Donetsk, and Stockholm before the indoor season is over.

"I was happy to jump well two weeks in a row," he added. "It was great to have the 6.01m, but being able to back it up this week was even better."

With 4.82m clearance, Stuczynski moves up to #3

Hooker wasn't the only pole vaulter making world record attempts tonight, as Jenn Stuczynski finally passed Stacy Dragila on the all-time indoor list and moved to #3 all-time with a 4.82m clearance.

Stuczynski entered with a first-attempt clearance at 4.52m (the height where Dragila herself, the last remaining vaulter, missed) and cleared 4.62m on her first attempt as well. She then moved the bar to 4.82m and cleared that without a miss. Only then did she have missed attempts: at 4.96m, just beyond Yelena Isinbayeva's 4.95m WR.

"It was a relief," Stuczynski said of finally surpassing Dragila's national record. "I've been trying that for three years now, maybe a dozen attempts.

“Technically I'm a better jumper than that first time, but sometimes the bar starts to win. This indoor season is all about getting over things, and that was one of them." Stuczynski will vault again in Fayetteville, Arkansas, next week.

Ejigu and Flanagan go to the wire

As Hooker was working on 6.06m this evening, Shalane Flanagan and Sentayehu Ejigu were in the closing stages of a dramatic 5000m race.

Flanagan, who led the race from the moment pacemaker Marina Muncan stepped off at 2000m, was chasing the American Record of 15:07.33 held by Marla Runyan, but Ejigu was chasing the win. They passed 3000m at 8:55.74 and 4000m at 11:54.15 with Ejigu shadowing Flanagan's every step. Anticipating the Ethiopian's last-lap surge, Flanagan ramped up the pace, finally breaking into a full sprint at the bell (the pair ran under 32 seconds for their final lap).

Ejigu got the last laugh, though, drawing even with Flanagan on the homestretch and finally beating her with a lean at the tape. Both women were credited with 14:47.62, but Ejigu got the win; the times to thousandths were 14:47.613 for Ejigu, 14:47.618 for Flanagan.

Flanagan, however, chopped nearly twenty seconds off the national record. The pair are now the fourth- and fifth-fastest women ever at the distance indoors, and Flanagan now holds the indoor 3000m and 5000m national records as well as the outdoor 5000m and 10,000m marks, the first woman to do this since Lynn Jennings.

"There are only so many women in the world who can do that," Flanagan noted with a nod to Ejigu, who improved on her personal best by eleven seconds tonight.

Willis, Goucher impress

Boston is a distance-running city, and the knowledgeable crowd at the Reggie Lewis Center enjoyed quality distance races throughout the meet. Nick Willis, who almost foiled Bernard Lagat's bid to win seven Wanamaker Miles last week at the Millrose Games, demolished last year's winner, Pablo Solares, to run away with the mile tonight in a world-leading 3:53.54.

Willis had to chase down Solares, who took over from the pacemaker with three laps remaining and tried to run away from the field at that point. He was looking back at the bell, however, and Willis used his tremendous closing acceleration to run him down in the last 100m. Willis said, "Compared to this time last year, I'm 2 to 3 seconds up. I've been doing a lot of strength work and now my speed is catching up to that."

Kara Goucher, winner of the women's mile at Millrose, won a 3000m here in Boston with similar tactics: sit with the pack for the first half, then ratchet up the pace in the second half. "This was supposed to be a marathon rehearsal," Goucher explained, ignoring the 39-kilometre difference in distances. "I was supposed to be hiding in the pack for the first half, but the announcer kept saying my name, so I couldn't hide very well." Goucher's 8:46.65 was good for a two-second winning margin over Kenyan Sally Kipyego.

Lindsay Gallo took the women's mile in 4:27.90 by running down Mestawot Tadesse (4:28.18) in the homestretch. Nick Symmonds won the 1000m in 2:20.52, and Alice Schmidt the women's 800m in 2:03.05. The relatively unheralded Bekana Daba of Ethiopia won the men's 3000m in 7:41.88 over Galen Rupp (7:44.69).

World Leader for Solomon in 200m

Shalonda Solomon won her first big professional race by running 23.17 to win the women's 200m, the fastest time in the world this year. Lisa Barber ran 7.19 and Carmelita Jeter 7.20 in a closely-packed women's 60m which will rewrite the year's list: Barber is now #2, and Jeter #4.

Michael Rodgers followed up his 60m win at Millrose with one in Boston, this time in 6.58 with Darvis Patton second in 6.61. Renny Quow, the 600m winner in New York, won the 400m here in 47.22. Ivory Williams took the 200m in 20.92.

Terrence Trammell was another follow-up winner in the 60m hurdles, running 7.53 without the fantastic start and first hurdle he had in New York. "The first hurdle really killed my momentum," Trammell explained, but he remained the class of the field.

Janay Deloach won the women's Long jJmp with a 6.33m mark, with Grace Upshaw close behind with 6.30m.

Parker Morse for the IAAF

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