Australia has a new world champion.
Eleanor Patterson stunned the world by becoming the first Australian to win the women’s high jump gold at the World Athletics Championship.
The 26-year-old recorded a personal best jump of 2.02m, equalling the Oceania* record, during the event in Oregon in the US on July 20.
“I’m actually, honestly in disbelief,” she said. “It’s crazy to think, I’m going to be shaking my head in disbelief for the whole week, month, year, who knows?
“I didn’t make it easy for myself. The calibre* of women I was up against was phenomenal* and they were clearing everything first time, they were doing amazing things.
“There were a number of moments where I had to dig deep to remain alive and also secure a medal and then see if I could stay on top of the podium. And somehow I’ve been able to bring that to fruition*.”
Patterson almost made an early exit from the final when she had two misses at 1.98m. But she recovered quickly, clearing 2.00m at her second attempt before producing the leap of her life, soaring over 2.02m.
That life-changing jump was too much for the favourite, Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh, who blew her first attempt at 2.02m. When both missed all three attempts at 2.04m, the gold was the Australian’s on a countback*.
“I knew I could clear that height (2.02m) and to do that on the first attempt was amazing,” Patterson said.
“I’m overjoyed I could even clear that height. I knew it was within me but to bring it out tonight under such pressure, I’m just so proud of myself.”
Australia’s Olympic silver medallist Nicola Olyslagers (nee* McDermott) finished fifth, clearing 1.96m before bombing out at 1.98m.
Patterson first rose to prominence* at the 2014 Commonwealth Games as an 18-year-old who combined school studies with winning a gold medal in Glasgow.
In 2015 she made the world championships final – the first Australian woman to do so – and finished eighth.
Her Olympic debut in Rio ended in tears after she failed to get out of the qualifying rounds.
As her world started to implode*, Patterson made a last-ditch attempt to qualify for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast but missed selection.
She then walked away from the sport until a call from Australia’s leading high jump coach, Alex Stewart, in 2019.
Stewart made several phone calls to check in on Patterson, who lived in the country Victorian town of Leongatha. But this call was different. Something clicked and soon afterwards Patterson packed up her life and headed to Sydney to work with Stewart.
Since then she has been rediscovering her best, finishing fifth at the Tokyo Olympics and taking silver at the World Athletics Indoor Championships earlier this year.
Patterson’s world championship victory now makes her a favourite heading into the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, which open on July 28.
Oceania: the region of the world that covers the islands of the Pacific Ocean, including Australia
calibre: the quality of someone’s character or the level of their ability
phenomenal: remarkable, exceptionally good
fruition: to fulfil a plan, accomplish
countback: when the judges look back at how many times the jumpers achieved a new height on the first attempt to decide the winner
nee: original name before being married and changing surnames
prominence: noticeable, importance, famous
implode: collapse from the inside
How high did Eleanor Patterson jump to win the gold medal?
What event was she competing at?
Where was this event held?
What made her return to the sport after walking away from it?
Which city is hosting the Commonwealth Games later this month?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Dig Deep Day
Imagine that the Australian Government has been so inspired by Eleanor’s story that a special Dig Deep Day is going to be held. The purpose of the day is to inspire kids to ‘dig deep’ like Eleanor to achieve their goals.
How do you think your school should celebrate Dig Deep Day? Describe some activities. Don’t forget to explain why these activities would be great. Design a poster to advertise the Day and help kids at your school understand what it means to ‘dig deep’.
Time: allow 45 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Health and Physical Education
Eleanor was inspired to return to high jump after a phone call from Australia’s leading high jump coach. What do you think he said to inspire her to return to the sport?
Write a script of the conversation that you think they have had or write a story based on this idea.
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English
My sporting hero
Write a letter to Eleanor Patterson to explain how proud you are of her and to wish her well at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Your letter can be anonymous or you can personally sign it off.
Remember when writing a letter:
start with a greeting such as “Dear Sir,”
Then on a new line, write the body of the letter.
Finish with a closing such as “Kind regards,”
And finally, sign the letter.
Try to include detail and emotion in the letter to connect with your target audience, Eleanor Patterson.