Herald on Sunday
Gutting: McCartney misses mark but won’t quit
Kiwi pole vaulter Eliza McCartney plans to take some time away from the sport after missing the mark for Olympic qualification but quashed suggestions she might retire.
McCartney came up short in her final chance to better the qualifying mark of 4.70m for Tokyo yesterday, bowing out at 4.50m.
The event in Auckland was the last of three competitions in which McCartney could have reached the mark, and admitted it was tough to know the book was officially closed for her on Tokyo.
“It is pretty gutting. Even though these last three competitions that we had were a long shot anyway, when it’s over, it’s over, and that’s a little bit gutting,” McCartney said last night.
Since claiming bronze at the 2016 Olympics, McCartney has been stifled by Achilles tendon and hamstring injuries. Two years ago, she discovered she had a genetic autoimmune disorder leading to tendon inflammation, which has made sprinting a challenge.
“I’ve had little periods with little glimpses of it looking like it might work, but I pretty quickly am too sore all over again to do much about it.
“I just need to take some time to reflect on it really, just take a break for a wee while and come back with more of a clear head, I guess.
“I’ve had a couple of years of this now, so I’m fairly used to it.”
She and fellow Olympic hopeful
Olivia McTaggart failed to clear 4.50m yesterday. McTaggart is also coming back from injury — having surgery after breaking her wrist when her pole snapped in 2019.
McCartney said it was frustrating to bow out at 4.50m because she knew she was capable of clearing it, even when not at 100 per cent.
“It was just a battle every time running down the runway, and it just means that my running mechanics were off and my takeoffs were off, so it is quite hard to get anything out of it. It was really difficult on the ground, which makes it really hard in the air to make up for what’s not going so well.
“I’m going to be taking a pretty decent break, because right now, everything’s flared up, so there’s not much point trying to train when it’s like this.
“But I also just need to walk away mentally for a while because it’s just been really hard this last six months to keep picking myself up every time I get kicked back down again.
“It’s taken quite a toll emotionally, so it will be nice to just step away for a while.”
While she has been unable to compete to her optimum for several years, the 24-year-old said she had no intention of putting the pole away for good, with hopes of a return next year after a break.
“Next year’s a really big year for us with world indoor champs, world outdoor champs and the Commonwealth Games.
“I don’t think there’s ever really been three majors in a year for athletics, so it’s a really huge year and it would really mean a lot to me to be out jumping well next year and to be at those competitions.
“I’ll be back. I’m too young and I’ve got unfinished business, there’s no way I could just leave it like this. I have to give it another go.”