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Aussie Hooker tops new Olympic height, winning gold
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Australian pole vaulter Steve Hooker won the men's pole vault gold with a new Olympic record of 5.96 meters at the Beijing Games on Friday.

The 26-year-older cleared the height in his last attempt. Russian Evgeny Lukyanenko, who is 23 years old, failed all his attempts for 5.90 meters and won the silver medal with 5.85 meters.

The bronze went to Denys Yurchenko of Ukraine, who got injured after clearing 5.70 meters.

Hooker said, "The whole competition was mentally and physically the hardest thing I've done in my life. It was more like boxing than pole vault.

"I am too tired to be excited. This is the hardest thing I've had to do in my life."

The event was a head-to-head between Hooker and Lukyanenko after the bar rose to 5.80 meters, at which Lukyanenko succeeded in his first attempt and Hooker got a narrow escape in his last try.

Then, both overcame 5.85 meters in their third attempts but the Russian failed at 5.90 meters.

The combat turned to be a solo when Hooker decided to create the Olympic record in Beijing.

The gold medalist said, "There might be 1,000 Aussies here, but it sounds like there are 20,000."

Cheered by a boisterous crowd of 91,000 in the Bird's Nest, Hooker strenuously broke the record and gave up further attempts for new heights.

On winning the gold, Hooker said, "It's weird, it is surreal. The biggest thing for me was having the Australian team out here supporting me."

The previous Olympic record of 5.95 meters was set by American Tim Mack in the 2004 Athens Games.

Hooker said, "The Olympic record is really special to me. Tim (Mack) is a really good friend of mine. I just can't believe that it happened."

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