Along with many high jump fans, Hestrie Els (nee Cloete), will tune into the Commonwealth Games final this Saturday, but not only to see who claims gold.

The former high jump world champion will be watching in anticipation to see if anyone can come close to breaking her 16-year Commonwealth Games record.

Els, 39, represented South Africa for almost 10 years, before relocating to New Zealand in 2008.

During her incredible career, Els won back-to-back gold medals in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur and 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, while successfully defending her World Champion title in 2001 and 2003.


Els is also an Olympic silver medalist from both the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Hestrie Els (nee Cloete) at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Photo /Getty
Hestrie Els (nee Cloete) at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Photo /Getty

Els said she always planned to end her career on a high note, and so after winning her second Olympic silver medal, the 2003 World Athlete of the Year decided it was time to call it a day.

"I thought after my second silver medal at the Olympics that was it, it was a high for me, it's better to be known as someone who retired on a high rather than a low," Els said. "I guess two silvers are as good as a gold.'"

"I started with my own family and I always said I wanted to end my career on high, I never wanted to end my career because I'm injured or cannot compete anymore."

Since her retirement, Els has not competed competitively in high jump, and has only briefly coached the sport.

And unfortunately for Kiwis, when asked if she would consider a comeback to represent New Zealand, Els said she didn't plan on returning to the sport any time soon.

"You never know, but I'm almost 40, so I think I'm a bit old for that now. I might enter the Masters, but as far as competing like I used to, no."

Hestrie Els (nee Cloete) with her Husband and two kids. Photo / Supplied
Hestrie Els (nee Cloete) with her Husband and two kids. Photo / Supplied

"At this stage my kids are keeping me quite busy because they are very good swimmers, so I hope they will be able to represent New Zealand somehow somewhere in the future."


"I'm just enjoying my normal gym life at least five to six times a week. Training is just in my blood."

Els said she looked forward to watching the high jump finals this weekend with confident belief that her record will continue to reign for at least another four years.

"It's quite a high record," she said, "I think it's still a tiny bit out of reach."

"I'm still ranked fifth in the world for it. It's quite a high one to achieve in the Commonwealth Games."

"There hasn't been as many great high jumpers in the Commonwealth since I retired, but I'm sure there's a few young ones coming up that might be able to achieve it."