THE support in Leongatha for local Olympic high jumper Eleanor Patterson is building as the day for lift-off in Tokyo draws closer.
The Women’s High Jump qualifying rounds will be staged at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Thursday, August 5 starting at 9:10am, Tokyo time, with the final to be held on Saturday, August 7 at 19:35 Tokyo time (watch for local broadcast times on Channel 7).
Watchorn’s Nextra Leongatha Newsagency, Express Office Choice and Tattslotto was the first to decorate their shop windows this week and they’re encouraging others to do likewise ahead of the big day next Thursday.
It’s an exciting time, especially with Australia’s athletes and swimmers doing so well, even with the COVID scare for the Australia athletic team on Thursday, July 29 when three team members came into brief contact with American pole-vaulting champion Sam Kendricks who tested positive for COVID-19.
Australian pole vaulters Kurtis Marschall and Nina Kennedy were kept separate from their teammates until the tested negative and the rest of the team was placed into lockdown until they received the all-clear to resume training.
But it’s an occupational hazard for athletes in Tokyo where new cases are emerging at 3000 cases a day in the local community.
According to Eleanor’s father Mark, the athletes, including her daughter, are keeping it simple, focusing on their training.
“They got into Japan about a week ago,” said Mark this week.
“And they only got into the village on Monday or Tuesday, but they’ve had access to the stadium and been able to train, which is good.
“In fact, that’s all the track and field team is doing. Staying in the accommodation at the Village and going to the stadium and back.
“Eleanor’s preparation was interrupted this year by the injury and not being able to compete in the Australian season, but she’s feeling good now and really wants to take it to the next level.
“She’s been able to spark up a friendship with some girls from different countries and they’ve been training together which is good.”
There are two Australian high jumpers in the field, Eleanor, and Nicola McDermott from the Central Coast of NSW.
McDermott created something of a sensation when she became the first Australian woman to break the 2 metre barrier in Sydney in April this year and has gone on to raise the bar to 2.01m at a meet in Stockholm on July 4. It was the third highest leap in the world this year and McDermott looms as a real medal chance.
But it’s a strong field and all about who feels good and performs well on the day.
The highest jump this year has been by Ukrainian Yaroslava Mahuchikh 2.03m on July 4, second highest by USA jumper Vashti Cunningham 2.02 on May 29, 2021, Nicola 3rd and both Nadezhda Dubovitskaya of Kazakstan and Mariya Lasitskene of Russion have jumped 2.00m in the past two months.
But Eleanor Patterson is well and truly in the mix with a personal best of 1.99 in February 2020 in New Zealand and, on the way back from injury, 1.96m on June 20, 2021.
“Nicola and Eleanor are both the same age (born in 1996) and have competed against each other many times, but they’ll actually be doing their own thing, training separately before the event.
“I called Eleanor early in the week but that’s the last we’ll hear from her now as she gets into her personal build up, but she’s really driven to do well.”
And everyone hopes she does.
It will likely take a jump of 1.96m, Eleanor’s season best, to make the final, and that will be the main aim for both girls this week.
Those interested to get themselves ready for next Thursday’s competition can go to the https://www.worldathletics.org/ website where there’s a wealth of information on the competitors in the field, mindful that make or break for these athletes is measured in fractions of a centimentre.
For your information, Bulgarian Stefka Kostadinova holds the world record of 2.09 metres, jumped at Rome on August 30, 1987. The Olympic record of 2.06m is held by Russian Yelena Slesarenko, jumped at Athens on August 28, 2004.