Steve Hooker, Sarah Jamieson, Paul Burgess and their physio, Shane Kelly, got together under the Eiffel Tower.
IT'S been a big couple of weeks since I last wrote. I celebrated my 26th birthday by eating snails and winning my second Golden League meet in Paris, and then jumped the second-best height of my career in London. 
Let's start with the snails, though.
On July 16, my birthday, I travelled by train from my base in Cologne to Paris for the IAAF Golden League meet. We arrived quite late but I was keen to make the most of being in Paris so, after consulting the concierge at the meet hotel, we settled on a nearby restaurant in proximity to the Eiffel Tower.
Now I am all about getting into the local customs whenever I'm travelling, so when I saw escargot on the menu I just had to try it. The verdict was positive, a bit firmer in texture than oysters and covered with a garlic and butter sauce ... yum!
The day before a meet, most athletes will do a light training session with the aim of sharpening up for competition. So, before Paris, all the Aussies at the meet arranged to train at the same time at the warm-up track directly under the Eiffel Tower. Myself, Sarah Jamieson, Paul Burgess and our physio, Shane Kelly, were joined by Tamsyn Lewis and Georgie Clarke. It was a really cool venue to do a session, and a lot of laughs were had.
As for the meet in Paris, I went in as the favourite - which was a bit unusual. And adding to this, Paris is a notoriously difficult place to pole vault. The wind swirls around in the big stadium and the box that you plant your pole into doesn't seem to fire your pole the same way as most other boxes. I took this as a challenge and went into the comp hoping to create a good result even if the conditions were not optimal; after all who knows what the conditions are going to be like in Beijing.
I finished up with the win and jumped 5.70m. I felt like it was a positive competition and, knowing that my upcoming meet was in London, which is renowned as a great place to jump, I felt like something big was on the horizon.
London didn't disappoint. The weather was amazing and the venue was great for vaulting, the field resembled what I think the Olympic final will be, and my two main rivals, Brad Walker and Yevgeny Lukyanenko, were competing.
I was hoping to basically treat the comp as a practice Olympic final, and the plan was to jump as many heights as possible over 5.80m. It all went according to plan. I jumped 5.82m, 5.87m, 5.92m and 5.97m. I attempted 6.02m, which would have been a new personal best, but didn't quite put together a perfect jump at that height. I came second on a countback to Yevgeny, but I'm
really happy with the result. I feel like there is still a lot of improvement in my jump, and I always like to have something in reserve.
On Friday, I travel to Hong Kong to meet up with the rest of the Australian athletics team. I can't wait to get into the team environment and finish off my final preparations for the games.