Competing outside Australia for only the third time, teen high jump sensation Eleanor Patterson has breezed into the final at the world athletics championships.
If sharing the stage with the likes of reigning Olympic gold medallist Anna Chicherova for the first time made her nervous on Thursday, Patterson didn’t show it.
She had one miss at 1.89m after an official got in her way, before easing over 1.92m at her first attempt.
It topped a good session for Australia at the Bird’s Nest, with Eloise Wellings through to the women’s 5000m final, Julian Wruck and Benn Harradine advancing to the men’s discus final and Michelle Jenneke booking a spot in the semis of the 100m hurdles.
Patterson goes to remarkable lengths to avoid publicity, declining to accept any financial backing from Athletics Australia and preferring to prepare for major meets with coach David Green in her Victorian hometown of Leongatha.
The only other two occasions she has competed overseas were when she won gold at the 2013 world youth championships in Ukraine and at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
“No I wasn’t intimidated,” said the 19-year-old Patterson.
“My coach and I have worked so hard.
“As much as it is a competition, I am just focused on relaxing and just doing what we practised.
“My main focus is to just jump how I know I can jump and relax.
“I’m here to do what I love to do.”
In contrast to Patterson, the 32-year-old Wellings is a veteran of the international track and field circuit, although this is her first appearance at a world championships.
She ran a strong and composed race in her 5000m heat, finishing fifth in 15 minutes 26.67 seconds to earn automatic qualification for Sunday’s final.
Countrywoman Madeline Heiner’s luckless championships continued as she finished as the fastest overall non-qualifier, just as she did in the 3000m steeplechase.
Wellings came into the Beijing world titles under the radar after achieving the qualifying standard in a mixed race.
“I’m sure none of those girls was looking out for me which was kind of good,” said Wellings.
“I like being the underdog.”
The self-coached Wruck (62.63m) and 2010 Commonwealth champion Harradine (62.48m) did just enough to claim the 10th and 12th spots in Saturday’s discus final, with Fedrick Dacres from Jamaica leading the qualifiers with 65.77m.
Competing at her first major championships, Jenneke produced the now familiar dancing warm-up which has made her something of a YouTube sensation.
Running alongside American Dawn Harper-Nelson, Jenneke was unable to stay with the Beijing Olympic champ but the Australian did hold on for fourth spot in 13.02.
“I am always happy,” said the effervescent Jenneke, who is flying the Australian flag in Beijing in the event usually dominated by the injured Sally Pearson.
“When I am out there I am just doing what I love.
“I absolutely love hurdles and I love being out there in big events and in front of the crowd.”
Ryan Gregson just missed out on a berth in the 1500m semi-finals and Brooke Stratton was eliminated in the qualifying round of the women’s long jump.