Eliza McCartney, Olivia McTaggart and Imogen Ayris, including a touch of international flavour in the field, will attempt to raise the bar in pole vaulting with, hopefully, no strings attached in Hastings today.

"The string is there to hold the bar while the athletes are ready to go and onto the runway then it's released on the jump," says pole vaulting coach Jeremy McColl, of Auckland, after the wicked westerlies made life difficult for his stable of athletes at the HB Regional Sports Park during a qualifying round before the 20th edition of the annual Allan and Sylvia Potts Memorial Classic today.

McColl says ideal conditions will help the athletes. Today's forecast is fine with northwesterlies turning easterly for a time in the afternoon.

Rio Olympic bronze medallist McCartney is making a comeback after picking up a heel injury competing in Birmingham five months ago, ending her 2018 season there.


The 22-year-old Aucklander has a PB of 4.94m and McColl is pretty happy with where she is now with her full run-up training.

Key events for McCartney this year will be the New Zealand athletics championship in Christchurch in March, the Australian nationals a month later and the September/October world championships in Qatar.

She will have competition from Rio Olympian Wilma Murto, of Finland (4.71m), Marta Onofre, of Portugal (4.51m), McTaggart (4.45m), Chloe Henry, of Belgium (4.42m), Elina Lampela, of Finland (4.25m) and Ayris (4.20m) with one or two vacant spots available.

The men's competition starting at 2.30pm could be Diogo Ferreira, of Portugal (5.71m), Tomas Wecksten, of Finland (5.55m), and New Zealanders such as Nick Southgate (5.47m), James Steyn (5m), Ettienne du Preez (4.8m) and Jack Henry (4.8m).

McColl, after a week-long training camp, hopes there's a slight tailwind to give the pole vaulters a lift in the Tumu ITM-sponsored discipline.

Classic organiser Richard Potts is excited that NZ Secondary School 1500m champion Sam Tanner will be competing in the 800m track event.

"Sam beat Nick Willis in the 800m men's race in the Capital Classic in Wellington [two Fridays ago]," says Potts of Tanner's stunning achievement over Olympic 1500m silver medallist Willis.

Other entries today include Japanese athletes Akiba Naoto, Takumi Shimada and Mamoru Takebayashi in the distance track events.


World No1 shot putter Tom Walsh, Nick Palmer, of Hastings, and Ryan Ballantyne will headline the field events.

Palmer, who leaves Karamu High School to study in Christchurch this year, competed at the world juniors, while Walsh holds the meeting record of 21.14m set last year.