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McCartney soars to stunning world-leading pole vault mark

Kiwi pole vault star Eliza McCartney produced a magnificent world-leading vault of 4.84m to triumph at The Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais Trophee EDF at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meet in Lievin, France today.

The 27-year-old Rio Olympic bronze medallist cleared her winning mark – the sixth best vault of her career – with her first attempt to defeat a world-class field and offer real optimism McCartney could be in the mix at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow (1-4 March) and Paris Olympic Games later this year.

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.

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 returned to form last year afters several years of injury struggles, clearing 4.85m in Schifflange, Luxembourg last July – her best height for four years. Unfortunately, injury ruined her chances of delivering at the World Athletics Championships but throughout the 2023-24 season she has performed positively. In December at the Night of 5s in Auckland she won with a confidence-boosting 4.73m and in Val-de-Reuil, France on Jan 28 she finished second with a solid 4.64m. However, today’s display perhaps best illustrates her current excellent shape and potential for a huge year ahead.

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McCartney, whose national record mark is 4.94m set in 2018, said: “Training has been going so well and I felt very prepared for this competition, which is a nice way to feel. 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.”

Kiwi Tom Walsh powered the shot out to beyond 22m with a world-class 22.16m but had to concede defeat to Leonardo Fabbri of Italy, who posted a PB and world-leading mark of 22.37m.

Fabbri, 26, the World Championship silver medallist, unleashed his big bomb in round two and also went beyond 22m in round six with a 22.06m effort. Walsh smashed out his best for the day in round one and followed up with 21.57m in round two. A foul followed with his third effort before completing his series with a 21.05m, 21.33m and a foul. Tomas Stanek of the Czech Republic with 21.32m placed third.

While disappointed to miss out the meet win, today was a big step up for Walsh who opened his campaign with a best of 21.17m for third in Ostrava on 30 January. The 31-year-old next competes at the Belgrade Indoor Meet on Wednesday morning (NZ time).

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