Athletics: Schoolgirl eclipses McCartney's record

By Anendra Singh -
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CHANGING TIMES: Olympian Eliza McCartney presents first prize to pole vaulter Olivia McTaggart in Hastings on Saturday. PHOTO/Warren Buckland
CHANGING TIMES: Olympian Eliza McCartney presents first prize to pole vaulter Olivia McTaggart in Hastings on Saturday. PHOTO/Warren Buckland

Auckland schoolgirl pole vaulter Olivia McTaggarthas eclipsed Eliza McCartney's 4.2m record at the annual Allan and Sylvia Potts Memorial Classic in Hastings.

"It's really awesome. I never really thought I'd be breaking any records," said McTaggart who picked up a pole after a decade as a gymnast.

"It [gymnastics] has just like the same aspects of technical difficulties so one of my mates started and asked me to give it a go so I did and just fell in love with it," she said with a broad smile of Imogen Ayris, of Takapuna Grammar, who settled for runner-up on Saturday at 3.9m.

The North Harbour Bays Athletics Club member, who turned 17 last Monday, said it was uplifting to have McCartney present club mates Ayris and third-placed Tauranga-born Hannah Philpot, 19, their certificates and prizes on the podium after watching them compete at the HB Regional Sports Park.

Pole vaulter McCartney, of Auckland, who was co-ambassador of the annual classic with fellow Rio Olympics bronze medallist Nick Willis, also presented the prizes to the male pole vaulters, including winner Nick Southgate, also of North Harbour Bays, who cleared 4.9m.

The pole vaulters are staying here for the rest of the week to train with coach Jeremy McColl before some of them compete at the Capital Classic in Wellington on Friday.

Kristin School pupil McTaggart has continued rewriting the history books, eclipsing McCartney's age-group records from last November as well as vaulting to 4.3m, equalling the Olympian's NZSS height to sit fourth on the all-time national list.

"It's awesome to know that with the same coach [McColl] I'll hopefully be able to compete next to her [McCartney]," says the daughter of Amanda and John McTaggart whose goals include making 4.55m for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next year and then the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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