Athletics: Another record for Eliza McCartney

By Chris Rattue

Pole vaulter Eliza McCartney.
Pole vaulter Eliza McCartney.

Rising pole vault star Eliza McCartney believes her latest record breaking feat makes the dream of a medal at the Rio Olympics a more realistic goal.

The 19-year-old world junior record holder was in a jubilant mood after setting a new national mark of 4.71m, which qualifies her for the world indoor games in Portland, Oregon next month.

McCartney said her latest effort had boosted her confidence around making the Olympic final.

"Once you are in the final, anything can happen," she said.

"I guess we had this mark in mind for a while but I haven't had a chance to really give it a crack. Everything came together and I'm absolutely delighted."

McCartney wasn't sure where 4.71m slotted her in the current world order, but it would of placed her fourth at last year's world championships won by Cuban Yarisley Silva who vaulted 4.9m.

McCartney set her latest record on home turf, at North Shore's Millennium Stadium, during the Vertical Pursuit beating Australia's Commonwealth Games champion Alana Boyd in the process.

Portland represents a significant boost to her build-up for Rio, because the international novice will get a taste of what Olympic pressure involves.

"Hopefully I can now go to Portland - 4.71 is a cut throat height that gives you automatic qualification," she said.

"It will be a huge competition with all the people who will be at the Olympics. It will be my first chance to compete against them. It will be an amazing experience and preparation for the rest of the year."

According to the IAAF website, there will be a special spotlight on the pole vault which is the opening event at the indoor games. The men and women's vaulters will alternate jumps on opposite sides of the infield and the promoters are claiming American Jenn Suhr's world indoor record of 5.03m - set this year - will be challenged.

It will be a vastly different atmosphere to that which greeted the vaulters in Auckland this week.

"It was a really fun competition, a good crowd, music, and slightly different and more relaxed than usual - I think that helps sometimes," said McCartney, about the North Harbour event.

McCartney is still using her 14-stride approach, as opposed to her full length 16-stride run up.

"The longer run up is a lot faster with more steps to control and I've not had enough practice to control it properly," she said.

"I've decided to stick to something that is working well at the moment."

McCartney and Boyd clash again on Thursday night, at the Auckland Track Challenge at Waitakere.

- NZ Herald

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