After a year in which she's leapt to fresh heights, Eliza McCartney cites her mental, rather than physical development as the biggest plus out of 2018.

The outstanding pole vaulter's year came to an end last month – although she didn't know it at the time – when she damaged her left heel at a Diamond League meet in Birmingham.

She had three events lined up after that, including both the DL final in Zurich and this weekend's Continental Cup meet in Ostrava in the Czech Republic.

However the heel didn't mend as hoped and after an attempted runup at her final training session in Leverkusen this week, McCartney accepted the heel wasn't good enough to compete.


''It was looking pretty positive and I thought I could compete, probably off a short runup but still get something out and be able to clear a couple of bars and that would have been nice to end the season with,'' McCartney said yesterday.

But the last step, a flat-footed takeoff for a pole vaulter, on her recovering heel wasn't right.

''It was too painful and obviously not ready. Because it was not the world champs or Olympics, it's not something worth pushing through and risking damaging it further.''

Her parents, Donna and William, are in Ostrava but instead of watching their daughter compete, will be in the stands watching her New Zealand teammates including shot putter Tom Walsh, sprinter Joseph Miller and middle distance runner Angie Petty competing for the Asia-Pacific team at the multi-national teams event.

The Rio Olympic bronze medallist produced three personal bests this year, topped by her 4.94m at Jockgrim, Germany in July which is the third highest outdoor alltime vault by a woman.

But for all the delight she took from her performances and development as an athlete, McCartney reckons her mental fortitude was her biggest step forward.

''I still feel this is the first year I've really felt a lot more comfortable on the circuit competing,'' the 21-year-old said.

''I'm a lot more used to it and probably feel I have proven I should be here and I'm jumping high and well.


''Through the whole year the common theme is my mental resilience is stronger than I sometimes give myself credit for.

''I've surprised myself this year in a few respects. Obviously I've had some great results but I also feel I'm developing as a professional athlete as well.''

A glance at her career numbers show how rapidly she has developed in the last three years but McCartney knows the true score.

''It may seem like I'm more of a veteran than I am just because I have an Olympic medal, but I was quite young then, and still am.

''I haven't been in this game long, and have a lot to keep developing. But this year has been a really good step in that direction.''

McCartney will be home in a few days and resting up, the focus on getting her heel fully recovered. Training will begin in a few weeks and she has no competitions until January.

She can't wait to get home after months away on the road. Being fully fit again is the priority.

''As long as I can get back to 100 percent then I'll be sweet.''