The first day of athletics competition at the Olympic Stadium is Friday and history could be made by a Kiwi from Roturua! Valerie Adams will attempt to become the first woman to win 3 Olympic Games gold medals in the one event in athletics! Competing in her 4th Olympic Games she is defending Olympic Shot Put Champion (2008 and 2012).
She will attempt to put the 4kg steel shot all the way into the record books to add to her illustrious career! Just so you know you don’t throw the shot, you put it.
Quite simply she is a legend and she should be lauded the world over.
Queen Val, as she is affectionately known by athletics fans, has an incredible CV. She seems to have been around forever, but is only 31 years old. Her success came early, winning the World Youth (under 18) Championships in 2001 and you can count on less than one hand the times she been without a medal at major international competitions.
She has made history throughout her career and is one of only 10 athletes to win World Youth, World Junior and World Championships, Usain Bolt has also achieved this incredible feat, as too has our own Dani Samuels (Discus).
At 19 years of age she competed at her first Olympic Games in 2004 placing 7th just over a month after having her appendix removed! To be able to participate so early after the operation is an achievement in itself, let alone placing 7th. This woman is as tough as they come.
She has triumphed over drug cheats (belatedly awarded her London Gold after the original winner tested positive) and now she is coming back from a series of injuries and operations; she has had 5 operations in the last 3 years, including right knee (Aug 2015), left shoulder and right elbow (end of 2014). But Queen Val is hitting top form at the right time with a recent 20.19m to rank her 2nd this year.
Her personal best is 21.24 metres; so think about it, she puts the shot almost the entire length of a 25m swimming pool (half Olympic size) or just over the length of four 4WD cars parked in front of one another! HUGE!! Next time you’re at the shops grab a 4kg bag of spuds and imagine that as a steel ball and putting it! Yes it’s tough.
Many outside of athletics circles or NZ may not have heard of her, or they may have just seen her on the Olympic TV advertisement driving the bus of elite athletes around the word to Rio.
But she deserves to be the centre of attention and one of the true heroes of athletics and the Olympics.
The excitement of field events are often understated and not promoted, with so many events held in conjunction around the stadium. But they’re truly exciting and shouldn’t be missed; waiting on the edge of your seat to see if the next thrower or jumper will further their mark and move up in the rankings, not knowing the winner until the last athlete has completed her last attempt.
Her mother, who passed away in 2000 when Valerie was 15, was Tongan and she cites her as the biggest inspiration in her life. She is very proud of her Tongan heritage and the fact her Mum only spoke to her in Tongan strengthens that connection to the small Pacific nation.
Since 2010 she has been coached by Swiss Jean-Pierre Egger and she is based there for most of the year. Her 56 competition winning streak from 2010 until the end of 2014 is worthy of legend status! Think about it, Valerie competed in 56 meets around the world, putting the shot 6 times at each meet and there wasn’t one woman who could beat her in that period!
Her “lowest” placing in a major championships since 2004 was 3rd at this years IAAF World Indoor Championships, her first major competition after surgery and injuries that hindered her 2015 season. There aren’t too many athletes that can claim results of that standard! And in every interview she is modest and humble.
But once she is in that shot put circle she is the most amazing competitor. A fabulous role model for young athletes around the world, we need to hear more about women of her calibre. Let’s hope she can inspire another generation of shot putters or athletes from her homeland New Zealand or pacific roots in Tonga!
And she has a wicked sense of humour too. At the Rome leg of this years IAAF Diamond League she was asked by an Italian photographer what event she did and she responded “800m!”
(see her twitter feed @ValerieAdams84 , 2 June 2016 for comment or for video from @NewshubSport)
Australia doesn’t have a competitor in the Women’s Shot Put, so we need to get behind this incredible athlete and cheer for our fellow Antipodean as she attempts to make history.
Women’s Shot Put (Eastern Australia time)
QUALIFYING: Friday 12th August 2305
FINAL: Saturday 13th August 1100