Athletics: Kiwi pole vaulter Eliza McCartney soars to world-leading mark in France

  • 11/02/2024

Kiwi pole vaulter Eliza MCartney has fired an Olympics warning shot by soaring past the year's highest mark during at a meet in France overnight Sunday (NZ time).

McCartney cleared 4.84m en route to gold at The Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais Trophee EDF at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meet, setting a new world high watermark for 2024.

The Rio Olympics bronze medallist cleared her winning mark – the sixth best of her career – with her first attempt among a world-class field in Lievin.

The result will be hugely encouraging for the 27-year-old, leading into next month's World Athletics Indoor Championships and the Paris Olympics in July. 

McCartney, who has been based in the UK under her new coach Scott Simpson since late-December, opened her competition at 4.50m, requiring a second attempt to advance to the next height. She then needed second attempts to clear 4.65m and 4.75m before raising the bar to 4.84m.

Bouncing along the runway with great intent she brushed the bar with her chest but crucially did not dislodge the bar and let out a scream of delight as she crashed on to the pole vault mat.

"Training has been going so well and I felt very prepared for this competition, which is a nice way to feel," said McCartney afterwards.

"Because it was my first comp back with my full 14-step run up it started off a little bit rocky because I was just figuring things out again. I've changed my run up a little which means my pole selection is slightly off compared to what I'd normally use on my 14-step.

"Then, almost weirdly, I pulled out a first attempt at 4.84m. To be perfectly honest I was quite shocked to end up with the world lead and the win.

"It is a lovely cherry on top. I'm feeling fantastic about how everything is going."

Great Britain’s Molly Caudery – the previous world leader with a best of 4.83m – finished joint second with 4.75m alongside Finland’s Wilma Murto. Alysha Newman of Canada, the 2018 Commonwealth champion, finished fourth with a season’s best 4.75m.

McCartney in action last year.
McCartney in action last year. Photo credit: Photosport

After a nightmare run with injury, McCartney returned to form last year, clearing 4.85m in Schifflange, Luxembourg last July - her highest in four years.  

In December in Auckland, she won the Night of 5s with a confidence-boosting 4.73m, before finishing second at the Val-de-Reuil, France last month with a solid 4.64m.  

Sunday's display is another positive step for the Aucklander, with a huge year waiting ahead.

Compatriot Tom Walsh was also in fine form in the shot put circle, Kiwi Tom Walsh throwing a world-class 22.16m, before conceding defeat to Leonardo Fabbri of Italy, who posted a PB and world-leading mark of 22.37m.

While disappointed to miss out the meet win, the silver medal was a big step up for Walsh, who opened his campaign with a best of 21.17m for third in Ostrava last month.

The 31-year-old next competes at the Belgrade Indoor Meet on Wednesday.