She may be a 19-year-old international novice, but Kiwi pole vault sensation Eliza McCartney has things well figured out ahead of her Olympic final on Friday (Saturday 11.30am, NZT).
The Aucklander, who has been the big mover on the Kiwi track and field scene in 2016, safely negotiated a testing qualification competition at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday (early Wednesday) and then pronounced herself in an excellent state of mind heading into what will be the biggest competition of her young life.
“I’m still learning,” the youngster told Sky Sports after she had a few wobbly moments en route to the 4.60 metre clearance she needed to book herself a spot in the 12-athlete final. “The fact I’m in the final means I can relax a bit more now.
“Qualification is so stressful, but now I’m in the final it’s pretty exciting.”
he terrific teen, who is hoping to be a doctor one day, was more than happy to self-diagnose her issues in the early stages of the qualifying competition.
She had a nervous moment when she required her third and final attempt to clear her entry height of 4.45m (which she did with plenty to spare), then needed a couple of jumps at 4.55 before she soared over the 4.60 mark at the first vault.
If that seemed like it got easier for McCartney the longer she stayed in the competition, then that’s an accurate translation.
Nerves were part of it, for sure, given that March’s world indoors (where she finished fifth with a best clearance of 4.70m) was her first experience at the global elite level. She may be soaring over some giddy heights − her best from a busy Kiwi summer was a national and Oceania record 4.80m − but she’s still taking her baby steps in the sport.
But figuring out just which pole to use proved the biggest problem for the Kiwi novice, giving her a few more anxious moments than she might have otherwise expected.