News & Updates
Pole vault women set to soar at Trusts Arena
Eliza McCartney and Olivia McTaggart are hopeful the strength in depth in domestic women’s pole vault will help inspire some leading heights at the Sir Graeme Douglas International presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co on Thursday (16 March) at Trusts Arena, Auckland.
Kiwi vaulters have been on fire in 2023 with Eliza edging a tight battle on countback with a clearance of 4.61m to win gold at the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Wellington earlier this month and last Saturday, Olivia posting a PB and World Championship entry standard vault of 4.71m at the Auckland Championships.
In that latter competition, Eliza once again cleared 4.61m and Commonwealth bronze medallist, Imogen Ayris, set a PB of 4.51m – so the re-match between the trio is keenly anticipated in West Auckland on Thursday.
Olivia believes a combination of improved strength and speed have contributed to her red-hot form in 2023 and now she has banked the World Championship entry standard, the 23-year-old athlete is optimistic there is more to come.
“The fact that I now have 4.71m means I can relax a bit more,” says Olivia, who finished sixth at the 2022 World Indoor Championships and fourth at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. “And when I’m relaxed and calm is when I’m having fun, and that’s when I jump my best.
“I wouldn’t be surprised on Thursday if I have another height in that range, although I’m not going in there with too many expectations, I just want to have fun. I’m sure it will be a good night. I’m really excited.”
For reinvigorated Eliza, the 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medallist, she is hoping to perform well at the Trusts Arena, a venue which played a key role in her long road to recovery after several injury disrupted seasons.
“I spent a year training twice a week at Trusts Arena as I recovered from my past injuries,” said the 26-year-old North Harbour Bays athlete. “It is a place I’m familiar with and I’ve spent a lot of time sprinting up those 72 odd steps adjacent to the 100m start and using the bounding stairs near the grandstand for plyometrics.
“We don’t ordinarily jump at Trusts Arena, so it is nice to compete somewhere different. It is always great to jump in Auckland because it means friends and family can come along and watch, especially those who wouldn’t otherwise come along to an athletics competition.”
Eliza boasts some happy memories of the Sir Graeme Douglas International presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co having posted a PB of 4.82m off a shortened run up at the 2017 edition and she has a couple of objectives for the World Athletics Continental Tour bronze meet on Thursday.
“The main goal for the season is to achieve the 4.71m entry standard for the World Championships. It would also be ideal to compete in at least five competitions to get a world ranking again (because of Eliza’s lack of competitions in recent years she currently has no world ranking),” Eliza said.
“I’m sure it will be another competitive competition because of the high standard of pole vault in New Zealand at the moment. I love the camaraderie and friendly rivalry between the girls, it is going to be exciting to watch.”
Olivia has had a mixed record at past editions of the Sir Graeme Douglas International in 2021 she no-heighted, but last year she bounced back to win with a best of 4.45m and she believes her greater experience will stand in good stead.
“In 2021 I put so much expectation on jumping well here because I was chasing Olympic qualification, and the pressure and stress got to me,” she explains. “As I’ve gained more experience, I’ve been able to let that go and stick to the processes. I’m just super excited to compete in front of a big crowd, which I’m sure will get the adrenaline going and give me every opportunity to jump my best.”
Watch Eliza, Olivia and Imogen in action in the women’s pole vault from 6.45pm at the Sir Graeme Douglas International presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co on Thursday (16 March).
Buy tickets here
Follow the livestream from 4.25pm on Thursday here
For updated entry lists go here
For updated timetable go here
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