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."
Making of an Olympian
Sarah Goss is the leader of a group of women who call each other sisters. The 23-year old will captain the New Zealand women’s sevens team of 12 in their historic first ever Olympic campaign. A year ago, they were red hot favourites for gold in Rio, but a difficult season has seen Australia not only catch but surpass the kiwis. However Goss and the team are acutely aware of the opportunity they have and what winning a gold medal could do for women’s rugby “ we are one of the few female athletes in New Zealand that get paid to do something we really love, and we’re pioneers to a legacy”. The Herald spent the day with Goss at her new home in Mount Maunganui. While she is a proud product of Manawatu, Goss has found an outlet from life as a professional athlete in the waters of the famous Bay of Plenty surf beach “It gets my head away from rugby. I don’t have to worry about training or leading, it’s just me, the wave and the surfboard and I’m able to clear my head and be Sarah”. They're about the closest thing you get to a sure thing in sailing. Four-time world champion 49er pairing Peter Burling and Blair Tuke head to Rio as one of New Zealand’s top medal hopes.