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NEWHAM & ESSEX Beagle pole vaulter Steve Lewis clinched a sensational silver medal for England at the Commonwealth Games after narrowly missing out on gold.

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Lewis, was in-line for the top prize in Delhi, India, only for his part-time training partner Steve Hooker, the Olympic champion, to pip him to gold on Monday.

Both Hooker and Lewis cleared 5.60 metres – a season’s best for the latter – but the gold went to the Australian on countback.

After enduring a poor run of form the Brit set about adapting his technique, which has taken time to adjust to, but the 24-year-old believes it has paid off after claiming silver.

“We went back to square one because pole vaulting starts with the run,” said the Stoke-on-Trent born athlete. “It’s taken six months, but now I feel like a pole vaulter again and it’s great to see that the changes are now working.

“I’m going to leave here with a smile on my face. I’m absolutely stoked, over the moon. I can’t believe I put together such a good competition right at the end of the year.

“It wasn’t easy trying to beat an Olympic champion, but I was really pleased with how I performed.”

Lewis made a shaky start to the competition, failing his first jump at 5.25m.

But he soon found his rhythm and jumped 5.40m, before he catapulted himself over 5.50m with his third and final attempt.

He then sailed over 5.60m, but Hooker was crowned the champion on countback.

The Beagle was quick to dismiss the negative press that has surrounded the Games, explaining he has had nothing but a positive experience.

“I know there’s been a lot of stories,” he said. “But it’s been fine.

“I’ve had a nice room and the stadium is absolutely fantastic. The crowds are amazing – there has been a great buzz.

“They’ve done a good job preparing our apartments and I’ve had a really pleasant time.

“I’ve been in the athletes’ village for the past four days and now I’ve got another couple of days here to relax and enjoy myself.”

“It’s been the longest season of my life and now I just want to wind down, then look to next year.”

Using the silver medal as a platform for greater things, Lewis intends to really kick on ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“I will sit down and start structuring my 2011 schedule and decide on things like where to base myself and all that,” he said. “Hopefully I can come back even stronger next year than I was this year.

“But it’s all about progressing towards London 2012. That’s why the Commonwealth Games were so important for me in terms of preparation for the big event.”

Fellow Beagles and England vaulter Max Eaves cleared a personal best height of 5.40m for bronze.

“This is my first major championship so I can’t ask for any more than that and I’ve got a personal best,” said Eaves. “It really looks promising for next year now.”

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