Australian youth stocks are looking good heading towards the 2016 Rio Olympics and 19 year-old high jumper Eleanor Patterson is leading the way.
She was recognised as the ‘One To Watch’ in the annual Women’s Health ‘Women In Sport’ awards on Monday night, joining the cream of female Australian athletes being honoured for their contribution to sport.
Winning a Commonwealth Games Gold medal in 2014 -- while studying Year 12 -- was a feat in itself, but 2015 has seen Eleanor Patterson take yet another step towards the top.
In Beijing, at the 2015 World Athletics Championship in August, Patterson finished in the top eight in the world contesting the final of the high jump competition.
She says she was bitterly disappointed to finish eighth having felt the work she and her coach, David Green, had put in should have seen her exceed the 1.92m jump with which she finished.
“I jumped 1.92m (but) I know I can jump higher and leading into it, my coach and I had worked extremely hard; I was feeling really, really good and jumping well and training was going really good,” she told The Huffington Post Australia.
“I certainly expect a lot out of myself and I was just disappointed with how I jumped; but I guess everything happens for a reason and I came away with a lot more experience and that’s only fuelled both myself and my coach David for preparing for the next season,” she said.
While last year was a very busy year with school and athletics, 2015 is allowing her more time to focus on her sport but also to relax.
“I love to do normal things like relaxing and reading and catching up with friends and family,” she said, admitting she is still trying to work out what she wants to do with her life outside of athletics.
Unlike a lot of her fellow elite athletes, Patterson has managed to stay close to home, still living in Leongatha and training with coach Green, who has been by her side from the age of eleven and, as Eleanor points out, lives just around the corner.
She has a strong appreciation of the contribution her home base, family and the broader community have had on her success so far.
"I’m so thankful for what I have in terms of an amazing coach who’s just brilliant and then there’s also my parents and family who have supported me all along the way, and the whole community around me as well."
"I’ve always had major support from everyone -- it’s supposedly an individual sport but really it’s a team effort," she said.
Patterson has already jumped the height in competition needed to qualify for the Olympics and has just to compete in the National Athletics Championships in April. She and Green will now lay out plans for both national and international competition as she prepares for Rio.
She has a focus and determination with a mature philosophical approach to her goals that belies her youth.
“My biggest goal is to always improve. I love to work hard with my coach and just to improve in general. So whatever that brings I will be undoubtedly happy with. I think the biggest goal in life is to be happy, to improve and to be the best you can be. So whatever that brings, I’ll be over the moon I guess.” she said.
As was the theme of the Women's Health awards, female athletes are providing important role models in promoting sport and women in sport and Eleanor Patterson is one young woman who is leading the way for her generation.
And with next year's Rio Olympics approaching fast, it's timely to remind sports fans that at the last Games in London, Australian women were in the minority on the team but won the majority of the medals.