Fully-fit Patterson chases second world high jump gold


Reigning world champion Eleanor Patterson is the first to acknowledge that the act of high jumping is unnatural for the body in many ways, not least for the huge amount of force it puts through the take-off foot.

Which in her case is the left.

So when Patterson suffered a clean snap of the fifth metatarsal in her left foot during a warm-up drill in Slovakia in February she knew straight away there were major ramifications for her world title defence.

The 27-year-old underwent surgery on February 24 to have a plate inserted.

This was followed by several months of rehabilitation.

A major corner was turned in Japan in May when Patterson jogged for the first time since the surgery. Then she started jumping again.

There was only time for three warm-up meets ahead of the Budapest world championships - the best of them capped by a 1.96m clearance for fourth place at the Monaco Diamond League meet in July.

The prospect of successfully defending her world crown was right back on the agenda.

Patterson and fellow Australian and Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Nicola Olyslagers were both untroubled in advancing through the qualifying round on Friday.

Olyslagers has been the form jumper in the world this year, winning nine of 10 competitions and leading the rankings after equalling the national record of 2.02m she currently shares with Patterson.

But Patterson also has a big-event mentality as proved last year when she won world gold in Eugene while managing a different and less serious injury - a stress hot spot in her right foot.

"The body is in one piece, the (left) foot especially so, and it feels all good now," she told reporters in Budapest.

"It's like a brand new foot in a way.

"Especially being my take-off foot it wasn't guaranteed whether I would be able to jump; whether the bone and the plate on top would be able to handle jumping.

"And what I am demanding of it because high jump is so unnatural in so many ways; you are putting a lot of force in your foot and at such an angle."

The surgeon was initially unsure whether the plate would need to be removed before Patterson could resume her career.

But it has healed so well that proved unnecessary.

"It wasn't necessarily the be-all and end-all of 'career over' kind of question but there was the question of whether it would present discomfort this year and then you get the plate taken out and it will have healed because it was quite bad," she said.

"It was the fifth metatarsal I fractured and then it was quite broken into a few pieces and butterflied out to the side and I needed the plate to realign everything."

The final on Sunday evening (early Monday AEST) shapes as a classic Australia versus Ukraine stoush, with two-time world championships runner-up Yaroslava Mahuchikh and Iryna Gerashchenko in the blue and yellow corner.