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Australia's Olympic pole vault champion beaten for first time
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Australia's Olympic pole vault gold medallist Steve Hooker was beaten for the first time in almost a year at a meet in Reims, France on Wednesday.

Hooker finished third behind hometown heroes Renaud Lavillenie and Romain Mesnil with a best clearance of 5.77m. He then declared himself 100 percent fit for the first time in several months after overcoming knee and shoulder injuries.

Hooker made clearances at 5.45m, 5.60m and 5.77m but had to settle for third behind the two Frenchmen who both cleared 5.82m.

It was the Australian's first defeat since the London Grand Prix on July 26 last year, prior to his Beijing triumph.

"The thing is, I lost but I feel great," said Hooker, who will be the gold medal favourite at next month's world championships in Berlin.

"My body feels really good and I am running faster which may have caused some minor problems in this competition but will only help in competitions to come.

"I am looking forward to getting in some good training over the coming weeks and coming out flying for the London meet," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 16, 2009)

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