Athletics: Olivia McTaggart snaps pole in Vertical Pursuit victory

National champion Olivia McTaggart has suffered every pole vaulter's worse nightmare on her way to victory at the Auckland's Vertical Pursuit street event.

Competing in the shadow of the Sky Tower, McTaggart had already won the women's division with a clearance of 4.27m, when she spectacularly snapped her carbon-fibre pole and crashed to the mat, while attempting the next height.

The North Shore teen, who competed at last year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, wrung her hand in agony, but courageously returned for two more unsuccessful attempts at 4.40m to end her competition.

Most vaulters will snap a pole at some point in their careers, but it's still a rare enough occurrence to shock most of the inner-city onlookers.

Olivia McTaggart
Olivia McTaggart soars over the bar at Vertical Pursuit. Photo credit: Photosport

"I'm feeling alright," McTaggart admitted afterwards. "The pole break is always a shocking thing for a pole vaulter.

"It's bound to happen, but you never know when - it's like Russian roulette. I'm just proud of how I dealt with it."

This was her third pole-break, so she's almost used to the scary experience.

"There are different ways of working with it - it's just trusting the pole, trusting the process and going for it anyway."

McTaggart was hoping to clear the world championship qualifying standard of 4.56m - 10cm higher than her personal best - but has now run out of domestic competition to achieve that. She will now chase that target overseas.

Nic Southgate clears the bar at Vertical Pursuit
Nic Southgate clears the bar at Vertical Pursuit. Photo credit: Photosport

National recordholder and Olympic silver medallist Eliza McCartney was unable to compete, as she continues to rehabilitate a pesky hamstring injury. She expects to be fit for the year's first Diamond League event in Shanghai next month.

Six-time NZ men's champion Nic Southgate took out the men's event with a 5.27m clearance, before failing at 5.40m.