Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

11 things you need to know about..... Eliza McCartney

New Zealand's Eliza McCartney competes in the women's pole vault final, during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo / AP.
New Zealand's Eliza McCartney competes in the women's pole vault final, during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo / AP.

Chris Rattue breaks down 11 things you need to know about New Zealand's newest star Eliza McCartney.

1) McCartney predicted she could win an Olympic medal as far back as February, after breaking the national record and qualifying for the world indoor games. That leap gave her confidence about reaching the Olympic final. "Once you are in the final, anything can happen," she said.

2) McCartney's boyfriend is Kiwi kiteboarding champ Lukas Walton-Keim from Bayswater, the Devonport Flagstaff reported in May. She filmed one of his best jumps, during practice, which was posted on his Facebook page. The 19-year-old Walton-Keim, who also attended Takapuna Grammar, was due to test kites for a sponsor at a small fishing village in Brazil after the Olympics, the paper said.

3) The 19-year-old McCartney - whose family lives in Devonport - wants to follow her mother's footsteps and become a doctor. Dr Donna Marshall is a GP in central Auckland.

McCartney has been satisfying her academic urges studying physiology part time.

4) Her mum was a gymnast and dad William McCartney - a lawyer - a high jumper. Dr Marshall told nz.Doctor: "Our sporting achievements might have been a little exaggerated in the media."

5) McCartney was a Vauxhall Primary School mate of pop star Lorde, and they played in the same age-grade netball team. Lorde's mother, Sonja Yelich, posted a picture of McCartney on her Instagram account during the Olympics: "This is Eliza McCartney - just the nicest person ever - and a finalist in today's pole vault in Rio." The girls were also at Takapuna Grammar.

6) Her coach is former builder Jeremy McColl, 33, a gymnast who took up pole vaulting in his 20s and won a couple of national titles. McColl believes pole vaulting can take off in New Zealand. "I've always believed New Zealand can become world-class because of the way Kiwi kids are talent-wise. They are very keen on extreme sports ... and you don't have to be the most amazing athlete to be a pole vaulter. What you need is a lot of skills."

After winning the bronze, McCartney said: "He (McColl) knows pole vault inside and out and he's the reason I'm here."

7) She was fifth at this year's world indoor championships in America, her first major international competition, where commentators tipped her as a star on the rise. She won the world junior bronze two years ago.

8) McCartney was a 13-year-old high jumper with ambitions to be a netball international when she first discovered pole vault after following a friend to a McColl training session.

9) Records, records, records. McCartney set the world junior record of 4.64m in Auckland late last year. She holds the national record of 4.8m, the height she jumped in Rio. She was also New Zealand's youngest individual female Olympic medallist...very briefly. Golfer Lydia Ko, four months younger, won silver in Rio the next day. Swimmer Danyon Loader is New Zealand's youngest Olympic medallist - he was 17 when he claimed silver at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

10) Shortly after winning the Rio bronze, McCartney posted an emotional thank you message. "Heart thumping, tears streaming, legs shaking, my family and support team going crazy in the crowd - that is what it feels like to be an Olympic bronze medallist. Jeremy, my entire family and my amazing support team - you all mean the world to me and are what keeps me going, I can't love and appreciate you all enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you to every single person sending their support. To know I am inspiring so many kiwis gives me the greatest happiness I could imagine."

11) McCartney believes women can match the men in pole vault, telling TVNZ: "...things are really moving forward very fast and the sport's evolving very quickly...we'll be pushing some heights near the boys hopefully. Watch out boys..."

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