Imogen Ayris scaled the bar for a personal best 4.10m during the Vaulters in the Bay competition in Hastings yesterday and then disclosed she should have done that in her home town of Auckland.

"I'm so happy. It's a long time coming. It should have happened a while ago," a beaming Ayris said afterwards in an event that marked a week-long clinic with the country's top pole-vaulting coach, Jeremy McColl, and his assistant, Brent Booker.

Is it something to do with the HB Regional Sports Park?

"I always seem to jump well at this track but today I don't know, I felt strong, I felt good," said the 17-year-old Takapuna Athletics Club member who is part of McColl's contingent of 14, including Rio Olympics bronze medallist Eliza McCartney and four males.


The clinic was a prelude to the annual Allan and Sylvia Potts Memorial Classic that will double as a Gold Coast Commonwealth Games-qualifying meet tomorrow.

"Today was perfect, I couldn't have asked for more. It was a little hot out there in the sun but I just loved it," she said, clearing the bar at 4.10m in the last of her six attempts but not progressing at the 4.20m measure.

Ayris said the week-long bonding and build-up at their Waimarama beach base certainly put her in the right frame of mind.

The Takapuna Grammar School pupil is a New Zealand under-20 squad member and yesterday's jump booked her seat to the junior world athletics championship in Tampere, Finland, from July 10-15. She had cleared 4.05m twice, including indoor, but this was the first time she had done it outdoors.

Having made the cut for Saturday, the teenager, who is starting year 13 next week, is eyeing another PB, although if she soars to the Commonwealth Games qualifying height, she will rejoice.

"If it happens, it happens, but if it doesn't, I'm not fussed. I'm still very young and still at school, so there's a few more years for that to happen."

McColl appeared to be a catalyst, standing near the spectator railing and offering nifty tips after a dropped bar which tended to spur Ayris to clear it in the next vault or two.

"Jeremy is incredible. He can see things. He has an eye for pole vaulting and picks up on the tiniest of things, so it's like my little finger catching on the pole," says Ayris.

She will use rising star and fellow Aucklander Olivia McTaggart as her beacon to make incremental gains.

"We've also got Liz Parnov here from Australia," she said of the 23-year-old London Olympian who arrived from Perth yesterday and was a spectator on the sideline with her father-coach Alex Parnov.

Ayris said the adrenalin would be flowing when she competed in a pedigree field tomorrow.

The teenager harbours Olympics ambitions, although she feels 2020 Tokyo may be too soon and that the 2024 Paris Olympics are a more realistic target.

Hannah Adye, 14, of North Harbour Bays (Auckland), an under-18 member, was second with a clearance of 3.20m, while clubmate Isabella Murrell, 19, of Australia, was third at 3.20m in the competition devoid of Gold Coast qualifiers.

McColl said it was imperative to have rapport with his athletes where their feelings and his technical input often yielded the desired result.

He reiterated the Bay warmth and gentle sea breezes late afternoon provided the ideal platform.

"You can't replicate that anywhere else in the country."

Ayris, he said, would take a lot of confidence into tomorrow and feed off the others.

Adye came agonisingly close to scaling 3.55m, a stellar effort for one so young.

Murrell, he said, was unlucky not to push the pole away and wouldn't progress to the classic but McColl expected her to make 3.60m this year.

The men had a few hiccups with their bar measurements, so their jumps couldn't be verified but James Steyn, 18, of North Harbour Bays cleared 4.80m.

Clubmates Jack Henry, 22, whose father Peter was an elite decathlete from Christchurch, and Etienne du Preez, 27, also were in the male field.

"James has done very well, whatever the height was because he was a long way over the bar at every height," said McColl of Steyn, who will seek to improve tomorrow.

South African-born Du Preez, who arrived here as a youngster, is a former hurdler and long jumper in his first competitive season of pole vaulting.

McColl said he and Booker had an eventful clinic with seminars, preparing compeition plans and a sports psychologist impress the need to deal with issues in a high-octane arena.

"The guys all had an amazing time and learned a lot."