She cleared 4.40, just 5cm short of her personal best, to finish behind Li Ling of China on 4.45. The bronze medal went to Chloe Henry of Belgium.
An ecstatic McCartney said she hadn’t gone into the competition expecting to win a medal.
``I’m still buzzing. I wasn’t expecting to medal or anything. I just wanted to go out there and jump a PB and do my best so I’m just stoked with that,’’ she said.
Coach Jeremy McColl said that McCartney had had a hesitant start but as the height went up to 4.30 that changed.
``Everything started to flow and her technique came together then quite nicely and that paved the way for the rest of the competition for her.’’
The World University Games is McCartney’s first major senior level competition and McColl says she has ``just shown that she’s where she belongs’’.
McCartney has previously placed fourth at the World Youth Championships and last year won bronze at the World Junior Championships.
In other results for Athletics on day two of their competition
Aaron Pulford competed in the 10,000m final, finishing eleventh in very humid conditions.
Decathlete Aaron Booth finished thirteenth in his draining 10-event contest, scoring 6905 points, 78 points shy of his personal best score. Jack Henry withdrew from the event after failing to clear a height in the eighth event, the pole vault.
Angie Petty, Cameron French, Nick Southgate and Camille Buscomb all performed outstandingly to qualify for finals.
Coach Criss Strange said French had produced gusty performance because ``of the high humidity which he doesn’t find easy’’.
``He knows he will have to be his very best to have a chance at a medal tomorrow but he relishes the chance to compete against the world’s best.’’
Petty stamped her authority in the second 800m semi-final leading all the way to win in 2:00.74, less than a second outside her best ever and the fastest qualifier by over a second, and looking like a potential medallist for Friday's final. Katherine Marshall finished eighth in 2:05.00 in the same race.
French finished 3rd in his 400m hurdles semi-final in 50.31, the sixth fastest time from the three semi-final races to progress to Friday's final, while Nick Southgate cleared 5.20m to qualify for the pole vault final on Saturday.
Buscomb won her 5000m semi-final in in 16:33.77 and will contest the final on Saturday evening.
Sprinter Kelsey Berryman and hurdlers Rochelle Coster went very close to making finals, Berryman running a personal best 11.64 PB to finish 3rd in her semi-final and finish as ninth fastest.
Rochelle Coster (13.69) and Fiona Morrison (13.78) finished third and fourth in their respective semi-finals in the 100m hurdles for ninth and tenth fastest times.
Bailey Stewart 47.57 for 7th in 400m semi-final not quick enough to make the final.
Sixteen Kiwis will be in action on day three of the track and field action in Gwangju.
Three New Zealand swimmers won through to the semi-finals on the sixth day of World University Games in Korea.
Counties Manukau swimmer Daniel Hunter followed up his strong form in the 100m freestyle from Wednesday by qualifying for the semi-finals in the 50m freestyle. He swam 22.63s to finish sixth in his semi and 12th overall.
Both Helena Gasson (Waikato) and Samantha Lee (Wellington) also progressed to the semifinals in the women’s 200m butterfly.
Gasson, from the Fairfield club and attending Waikato University, swam 2:12.83 to finish fifth in her semi and ranked ninth overall.
Lee, from the Capital club and studying at Massey University, claimed the 16th ranking with a time of 2:16.22.
North Canterbury’s Natasha Lloyd took half a second off her previous best to clock 32.32 in heats of the 50m breaststroke to be 18th fastest, missing out on a place in the semi-finals by just 7/100ths of a second.
In other swims Laura Quilter (North Shore) went 26.54s to be 25th fastest in the heats of the 50m freestyle while Monique King just missed out on advancing in the women’s 800m freestyle, 10th fastest in 8:51/11, taking a significant 3.5 seconds off her previous best.
For more information contact Sue Eden, on behalf of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, on 010 2503 7705