7 Aug 2020

Eliza McCartney goes high-tech to overcome injuries

12:25 pm on 7 August 2020

New Zealand pole vaulter Eliza McCartney has gone high-tech in an effort to keep persistent injuries at bay and enable her to get to next year's Olympics.

Eliza McCartney of New Zealand


Since winning a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 23-year-old has seen her career blighted by injuries.

Achilles problems affected her build-up to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games where she finished second.

And 2019 was almost a complete washout which meant she didn't compete at the World Championships in Doha.

However, late last year she revealed that the cause of her problems might be a genetic disorder.

Tests had revealed that the disorder caused autoimmune inflammation, particularly affecting tendons.

Eliza McCartney wearing the IMU bands on her ankles.

Eliza McCartney wearing the IMU bands Photo: Supplied

Since then she's changed her training approach again and is now using "I Measure You" bands on her ankles that measures the load that she puts on each leg.

"They measure the impact of my lower limbs which allows us to see if there is more force in one leg than the other."

"My biomechanist, physio and coach have all been very interested in the data which then means we can see how my training is affecting my body and therefore we can make adjustments."

McCartney said one of the areas of interest was the total impact load she was undertaking each day and whether that needed to be adjusted.

"Initially we used the data in my rehab process, but now we use it to see if there are trends or if things change which can indicate a potential risk of injury.

"You don't want too many spikes in your total load."

McCartney recently attended an Athletics New Zealand training camp in the Hawke's Bay in June.

"It was really exciting because it was the first time that I felt I was back and in good shape and able to vault again, it really gave me some confidence."

She is having some down time now to rest her achilles which flared up a little following the camp.

McCartney realises that her achilles issue is something that she'll probably have to live with, but is okay with that.

"I'll have to train a little smarter and make sure I don't put myself in risky periods where I could get a return of the achilles symptoms so we are looking at ways of adjusting training, but it's early days and we have plenty of time."

"We learn every time that something works or doesn't work because we have these new ways of collecting data and with the team around me I do have a lot of confidence.

"I don't know how long it will take but I feel confident that in time things will be much more manageable and there is reason to be optimistic because I'm only 23 and hopefully have a number of years ahead of me."

Infact the target is December when the Olympic qualifying period will open up again.

She needs to reach a height of 4.70 metres to get an automatic qualification for Tokyo, that's well below her best of 4.94 metres.

McCartney said her aim is to compete over the New Zealand summer and gain an Olympic qualification and until that's done she won't focus on much else.