Eliza McCartney learning to walk before she leaps for Paris bid

Source: 1News

Eliza McCartney is returning to the track with a different spring in her step after making "drastic" changes including how she walks in order to kickstart her pole vaulting career again.

Since her breakout bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, McCartney has been plagued by numerous injuries - a majority of which revolved around a troublesome Achilles.

The consistent issues eventually led to McCartney missing out on qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics last year and although that "low point" hurt, McCartney said she wasn't ready to call it quits.

"Obviously I had those thoughts running through my mind, mainly that I'd have to stop and it would get to the point where my body would say 'this is just not possible anymore'," McCartney told 1News.

Eliza McCartney reacts after failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

"But of course I thought the end was much closer than I expected.

"But the main thing that kept me wanting to continue is that I couldn't leave it the way it would have been left after Tokyo."

As such, McCartney has overhauled her programme to come back stronger, listening to both her body and those around her about how she can get the most out of the next two years to be ready for an Olympic campaign in Paris.

"I had some new people come into my team and we had a big review of what needed to change if I wanted to keep going," she said.

"The main thing that we've learnt really after reassessing after Tokyo was that actually, [my injuries] were actually less medical than we thought.

"Actually, by changing my biomechanics and my motor patterns and the way I move on the gym and track has actually alleviated a lot of the issues we thought were more serious than they were."

One step at a time

Eliza McCartney clears 4.85m at the 2019 Potts Classic.

The training has seen McCartney and her team peel back her approach right down to the absolute basics, starting with how she walks every day.

"We started at walking just to make sure I was walking in a healthy way for my Achilles," she explained.

"We've broken down every movement but so far it's worked really well and better than expected.

"Everything is connected - it's all very logical and it's been about getting the right people in and who could see that work with me specifically on that so when I start vaulting again, I'd carry that with me."

But those changes will take time and with the bigger picture in view, McCartney has opted not to compete at this year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham or the World Championships in Oregon.

Eliza McCartney looks on during the women's pole vault final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

"Initially, when we were making these decisions and realised it was possible, we realised we were looking at quite an extended period of not vaulting and that was going to encompass much of this year, including the Commonwealth Games," she said.

"That was really difficult to willingly let go of because I'd put quite a lot on the Commonwealth Games this year thinking that I didn't make it to the Olympics so if I didn't make it [to Birmingham] this year then I'd quit, I'd give up.

"I didn't know if I could commit to this new training regime if that was what it meant but I came around and perspective came in to play where I realised this was about being at my best or better for 2024 and when you think about it that way, it does take time."

McCartney said she knows it might not work out in the end but just to be back on a positive path has been a positive after her recent years of pain.

"I don't know how long it will last, but the point is I've been given this opportunity and it's working at the moment."