Tokyo Olympics: Heartbreak for Eliza McCartney as Kiwi pole vaulter misses Olympic qualifying mark

Five years ago, Kiwi pole vaulter Eliza McCartney made a dream start to her career by claiming a bronze medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

But that fairytale has come to a devastating end, after the 24-year-old failed to reach the qualifying height for this year's Tokyo Games at a last-chance meet in Auckland.

The emotion of her Tokyo Olympic dream coming to an end was raw for McCartney, who had to be consoled, after coming up short of the 4.70m standard, unable to clear 4.50m.

"That was really tough, mainly just to get down the runway," McCartney says.

Two years ago, McCartney discovered she had a genetic autoimmune disorder leading to tendon inflammation.

"Certainly, this year has been really tough. I wanted to stop a number of times in the last six months, but I don't know, something just makes you want to keep going. 

"I think because you know it's not over until it's over."

But now that this year's Olympic dream is over, McCartney admits it's time for a break.

"I think it's more mental than anything. When I come back, I need to feel really motivated."

And there should be plenty of reason, with world championships, the Commonwealth Games and world indoor championships all happening next year. 

"I'm too young to stop. It's worth giving it another go."

The dream is to eventually return to the Olympic podium and, at just 24, there's plenty of time to succeed.