High jumper Eleanor Patterson, one of SPIKES’ ten teenagers to watch for 2014, got people talking in the world of athletics after she cleared 1.96m in December. We bring you ten things you might not know about the world youth champion targeting success in this week’s Commonwealth Games.
1. Early starter
Patterson’s first athletics memories were as a six-year-old competing at a mini athletics carnival at school. She maintained her interest in the sport through a combination of primary school events and Little Athletics competitions.
“I always did all the jumps, a bit of hurdles, but always loved high jump the most,” she says.
2. Height at home
As would befit an emerging high jumper, Patterson comes from a tall family. She stands at a lofty 1.82m (6ft), yet is dwarfed by her brother.
He would appear to have all the qualities to replicate his sister’s talent. Still only 15-years-old, he is already a towering 1.96m (6ft 5ins).
That said, his big sister could still jump over him.
3. Country Girl
Hailing from the small town of Leongatha, Victoria – around 135km south east of Melbourne – Patterson has to embark on an hour drive once a week to train at her ‘local’ track.
The rest of the time, she lays down a mat and trains on grassed ovals in her hometown.
Patterson's from the same area as Olympic and World bronze medallist Tim Forsyth
4. Something in the water
She hails from the same South Gippsland region of Victoria where Tim Forsyth, Australian men's high jump record holder, was raised.
Forsyth, a 2.36m jumper, was an Olympic and World Championship bronze medalist back in the 1990s. “I have met him once, but he hasn't to my knowledge commented on my [1.96m] jump,” she says.
Forsyth won gold in the Commonwealth Games in 1994, an achievement Patterson will seek to replicate this week in Glasgow.
5. Green machine
For the last seven years, Patterson has been coached by Dave Green, who she describes as “very knowledgeable, passionate and dedicated”.
She has complete faith in her coach, to the extent that she isn't one to obsess over watching high jumpers on YouTube to gain technical tips. “I'm confident in my coach's expertise,” she adds.
Patterson jumping her 1.96 PB in Townsville last December.
6. Stat's amazing
Her 1.96m jump in Townsville matched the world youth record set by South African Charmaine Gale-Weavers back in 1981 (also equalled by Olga Turchak, of the Soviet Union, in 1984).
The leap was only 0.02cm shy of the Australian senior record held jointly by Alison Inverarity and Vanessa Browne-Ward.
“I was surprised and ecstatic to jump so well in Townsville. However my coach knew I could do it,” she says of her eye-catching jump.
7. Eyes on the Clyde
Eleanor chose to compete in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, thereby turning down the opportunity to take part in the World Junior Championships in Eugene. Morgan Lake went the other way and ultimately won gold in the high jump event at Hayward Field (as well as picking up gold in the heptathlon).
But TrackTown was never on Patterson’s radar. When SPIKES asked her earlier in the year what her main aims were for 2014, she gave a resounding answer: “My goals are to compete at the Commonwealth Games and to get a PB.”
8. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie...
Patterson landed the high jump title at the 2013 World Youth Championships in Donetsk. In doing so, she played a big part in what was a stellar performance by the Australian team at the meet.
In all, the Aussies bagged three golds and finished fourth in the overall medals table – ahead of such athletics heavyweight nations as the USA, Russia and Germany.
Eleanor Patterson: "If I work hard enough anything is possible"
9. Two’s company
The 2.00m mark is considered the benchmark for world-class women's high jumping. It’s an achievement that Patterson has not ruled out as a possible achievement in 2014. “If I work hard enough and get a PB anything is possible,” she says.
In July last year, she achieved a PB of 1.88 in winning her youth title in Donetsk. Within six months that had increased by 8cm. If she continues on the same trajectory there will be only one outcome.
10. Ordinary girl
Patterson, when not training and competing in high jump, is just like any other typical teenager. The 18-year-old says she likes to read, watch movies, shop and spend time with family and friends. After sport, her favourite school subject is art.