Marschall ‘does a Hooker’ to take gold
OLYMPIC champion Steve Hooker made a name for himself at a home Commonwealth Games and Kurtis Marschall followed in the footsteps of his idol on the Gold Coast on Thursday night.
The 20-year-old Adelaide pole vaulter announced himself as track and field's next superstar when he stared down a former world champion to claim his first gold medal.
Marschall showed nerves and composure beyond his years to mimic the accomplishment of Hooker who won the Commonwealth title in 2006 in Melbourne and then two years later tasted Olympic glory.
In an enthralling battle with Canada's 2015 world champion Shawnacy Barber, the Australian snared the victory when he cleared 5.70m on his third attempt.
And the person who was the most excited - apart from Marschall - inside Carrara Stadium was Hooker who was inside the Channel Seven commentary booth.
"He is a big-time performer." Hooker said. "Every opportunity he has, he's taken and this is an amazing step to being a truly world class performer.
"I'm so proud of this guy, so proud of his team."
After missing his first jump in the competition at 5.45m, Marschall got it on his second attempt and then went to the lead when he cleared 5.55.
Barber was in trouble early after entering at 5.35m which he cleared at his first attempt but he then missed his two attempts at 5.55m before dramatically staying alive when he cleared it on his final attempt.
The pair then both cleared 5.65m on their first attempts as the tension started to rise.
It was a different story at 5.70m with Barber, who was first in jumping order, bombing out although in his third attempt the bar seemed to momentarily stay on before toppling over much to the delight of the parochial home crowd.
The action unfolded as Marschall's teammate Dani Stevens was throwing for gold in the discus and the stadium at Carrara was rocking.
"Jumping at the same time as Dani was throwing. Everyone was telling me the crowd was unreal, I didn't believe it, I couldn't even hear myself think," Marschall said.
"I struggled to comprehend it. Then I managed use the crowd.
"Third attempt man, I have never been in that situation before, going for the gold. I have learned from past mistakes and I knew how to do it so I just executed my processes, kept a cool head, used the crowd, and it worked."
After claiming gold Marschall turned his attention to Hooker's Commonwealth Games record of 5.80m but failed on all three attempts at 5.81m.
"It's eerie," Hooker said when asked to compare his journey with what he was witnessing from Marschall.
Hooker defeated a former world champion, Dmitri Markov, in Melbourne in 2006. He then went to the 2008 Beijing Olympics and pulled off a remarkable victory, surviving on third-attempt clearances at the back-end of the competition.
A world title came in 2009 which was the same year he set the Australian record of 6.06m.
Marschall is on the same path and it was obvious early on that he had something special given the way he handled his late call-up to the Rio Olympic team where he only missed the final on countback.
He again showed his poise and class at last year's world championships in London, mixing it with the world's best to place seventh at only his second outing at a major championships.
Marschall prepared for the Commonwealth Games by finishing fourth at the world indoor championships in Birmingham.