Rio Olympics 2016: Young Kiwi pole vaulter has high hopes

Nineteen-year-old Eliza McCartney attempts to claim New Zealand's first pole vault medal today. Photo / Dean Purcell
Nineteen-year-old Eliza McCartney attempts to claim New Zealand's first pole vault medal today. Photo / Dean Purcell

New Zealand's record medal tally could grow even more this weekend - with the contenders spearheaded by 19-year-old pole vaulter Eliza McCartney.

The teenage sensation will try to soar her way into Kiwi sporting history - securing our first pole vault Olympic medal - when the women's final begins at 11.30am.

She secured her spot in the final at the Estdio Olmpico Joo Havelange with a 4.60m vault earlier this week.

McCartney's rapid rise to a medal hopeful in the months leading up to the Rio Olympics included finishing fifth at this year's World Indoor Championships.

Shortly before departing for Brazil she told the Herald she was confident of doing well despite her young age and relative lack of international experience.

"It's hard - you have to to learn, and work out how you deal with it yourself," she said.

"It's just about controlling the nerves, because when you have so much adrenaline you push further and you run faster."

Our medal tally last night stood at 15 after a stunning day in New Zealand sport.

New Zealand's yachting crews led the way, with Peter Burling and Blair Tuke winning gold in the 49ers, Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie silver in the 470s and Molly Meech and Alex Maloney silver in the 49erFX.

Kayak golden girl Lisa Carrington won bronze in the K1 500m, to go with a gold earlier in the week in the K1 200m, and shot-putter Tom Walsh claimed bronze - the first track medal to be won by a male Kiwi Olympian.

This morning the Black Sticks played Germany in the play-off for third and fourth. The women's team came fourth at the London Olympics in 2012, beaten by Great Britain.

Runner Nikki Hamblin is also set to race in the final of the women's 5000m in the afternoon.

Tomorrow, Nick Willis will be chasing his second Olympic medal in the men's 1500m final, while Andrea Hewitt will be competing in the women's triathlon.

Golfer Lydia Ko's hopes of getting on the medals rostrum will be known after the completion of the final round of the women's stroke play event tomorrow morning.

- NZ Herald

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