LOCKDOWN in Leongatha got a whole lot easier to handle last Saturday night when favourite daughter, Eleanor Patterson, was the first person to sail over 1.96 metres in the Olympic Women’s High Jump in Tokyo.
You could almost hear the cheer echo around the town as Eleanor and her teammate Nicola McDermott really did the country proud and lifted our spirits right through an absorbing contest.
“It was powerful and it was successful, Eleanor Patterson has put herself right in the mix,” said the commentators after the clearance, and the Leongatha girl, coming back from injury, had every right to look at the next height, 1.98m with a lot of confidence.
Eleanor’s first and third attempts at the height were oh, so close, especially the third attempt which would have kept her in the competition.
But being the first and only person to clear 1.96m at her first attempt, she finished the competition as fifth in the world – a great achievement.
And something to build on, if she chooses to go on and take it to the next level in Europe later this year, the world championships next year and ultimately Paris in three years.
Along with the rest of Leongatha, South Gippsland and residents from everywhere around, Eleanor’s parents Mark and Helen Patterson were watching every move.
“We’re just so proud of course. She’ll be disappointed that she didn’t go further in the competition but I think she can take a lot of confidence out of it as well,” said Mark.
He’d earlier pointed to an excellent profile article on Eleanor by Michael Gleeson in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age at the weekend, detailing Eleanor’s journey back into elite competition.
A Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist at 18, Eleanor stopped competing after a difficult experience at the Olympic Games in Rio but ultimately she decided she belonged in the sport and was determined to attend to unfinished business.
The article also addresses her unique friendship with Nicola McDermott and how both athletes are sharing each other’s journey to Tokyo.
“I am just so excited she is here on this journey with me as well. We push each other and she is doing phenomenal things,” Patterson said in Gleeson’s article.
And so it turned out to be, Eleanor the first to embrace Nicola after dramatically claiming the silver medal by beating her own Australian record and jumping 2.02m in an Olympic final.
McDermott very nearly cleared the next height of 2.04m.
It was heady stuff for McDermott and for Patterson to finish fifth in the world. These were the equal best (matching the Olympic Silver by Michele Brown at Tokyo in 1964), and second best results by Australian women in the Olympic high jump.
After the event, an ecstatic McDermott said she was determined now to get to at least the 2.04m height she narrowly missed on Saturday and to try to go one or two places better in Paris in three years’ time.
Will Eleanor go on as well? It’s highly likely after rekindling the fire in her belly for competing and succeeding at the top level in the world.
Well done Eleanor and Nicola… you gave us something to cheer about at a time when lots of other things look pretty bleak at the moment.