Cooke breaks national record

HARARE - Zimbabwe decathlete Keegan Cooke is now the last man standing after clearing 4.60m in the pole vault in South Africa at the weekend to eclipse Glenn Barrett’s 4.56m national record achieved in Australia in 2009.

This was achieved during the weekend’s Open Athletics competition held at the Dal Josaphat Stadium in Paarl, Western Cape and comes hard on the heels of the 4.50m mark he recorded in January in South Africa as well.

Despite the severely windy conditions that made a mess of his throwing events, Cooke managed to place first in both the 110m hurdles and the pole vault with the new national record being the major highlight of his participation.

“There are a lot of people to thank in this journey. I have had my eye on the Zim record for the last four or so years. In that time it’s been a combination of efforts that have led to this result,” Cooke told the Daily News on his achievements.

“Simply put, if it were not for my wife (Amy) and her continued support I’m doubtful I would still be training — she is a foundational pillar for the dreams we feel called to chase.

“There are also many coaches and mentors, but Seef Le Roux and Jean-Paul van As have extended an opportunity for us to succeed in the decathlon and the pole vault. Their time and dedication to our journey is truly a gift from above that we don’t want to take for granted.”

His coach Jean-Paul said he was happy with the athlete’s achievements.

“I’m really happy with Keegan’s performance...height wise we are ahead of schedule. Getting a 4.60m clearance on a shorter pole and shorter run up is a good indication that some important pole vault basics are now in place,” he said.

“This means we can now increase the run up and grab some bigger poles, which will most certainly give us even better heights.

“Keegan trains hard and is very focused, which most definitely adds to his success. A 40cm improvement on his previous best in a couple of months working together testifies that we are on the right track.”

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