Everything I saw of the 2016 Summer Olympics was completely by chance, but I feel lucky that I got to watch Eliza McCartney win the bronze medal in the pole vault. She showed such sincere enthusiasm for her first Olympics appearance, and in her celebrations of her good jumps, that the presenters could not fail to comment, or the audience to root for her. At 19 years and 252 days, Eliza became the youngest Olympic medalist in the women’s pole vault.
I didn’t realize at the time that I was watching a kiwi girl. I caught on to this during televised replays of the event not long after. It was pretty cool listening in on a group of little local girls as they watched and spoke admiringly of Eliza.
It still strikes me as somehow quaint that a sign hand-painted on a sheet of plywood was placed next to the sign for Devonport proclaiming it “Home of Eliza McCartney”. Maybe the town has plans for something more; at this point the Devonport sign itself could really use a freshening up.
I’m in Devonport almost daily because the small but affluent Auckland suburb has a good number of businesses that offer free WiFi and are good places to work online. As it turns out a young girl who works at my favorite Devonport cafe is a long time friend of Eliza, and watched Eliza win the bronze with Eliza’s mother. A short time later I learned that my long-time friend was taught kiteboarding and paragliding by Eliza’s boyfriend’s mother, and I believe father, who run a company teaching these sports in Bayswater. The boyfriend is a champion kiteboarder.
Eliza arrived back in Auckland today, and appeared on the local news this morning, and at a welcome ceremony later this morning.