In a five-part series, the Herald is profiling New Zealand Olympians going for gold at Rio 2016. The films feature exclusive access to top athletes and get to the heart of what makes an Olympian. They will be released every Friday throughout July. The fourth of the series profiles pole vaulter Eliza McCartney.
The Rio Olympics have, in a sense, come as a surprise for Eliza McCartney.
The 19-year-old Aucklander was initially targeting the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, but her rapid progress meant a rethinking of her goals.
"It only became apparent in the last year or so I could go to Rio." she said.
McCartney started pole vaulting aged 14 and a discipline with many components to be mastered appealed to the amiable young woman who laughs easily and often.
"I quickly started doing quite well. I was surprised by that and kept going. Technically it is a hard sport and it can take years to get that technique right.
It is something that, when you do it right, it feels amazing."