Eliza McCartney – Raising the bar

To the watching world Eliza McCartney could have been competing at a school sports day rather than on the greatest stage of all.

She barely stopped smiling through the heats and the final, the successful jumps and the fouls – all the way to winning pole vault bronze.

Almost the only grimace came when she hugged Alana Boyd, the Australian she knocked into fourth place on a countback.

Even then McCartney’s grimace was one of commiseration, Boyd’s smile of congratulation. Their Anzac embrace epitomised the Olympic spirit.

In Rio, at her first Olympics, McCartney performed with poise, a calmness that belied her 19 years. In a moment she became the new golden girl of New Zealand athletics.

She took it all in her stride. No fuss, no pressure.

Little more than a month later the teenager, who is studying part-time for a Bachelor of Science in physiology, remains unaffected by her meteoric rise.

“All I want to do is reach my potential. I think when people said I looked calm at the Olympics, it was because I was worried about what I was jumping and not how everyone else was jumping. I wasn’t worried about the result – I think that’s what got me the medal.”


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