Wellington — New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams commands
a place among the most elite companies in world athletics and yet has the
misfortune of not even being the most famous athlete in her family.
Adams will attempt at the Rio de Janeiro Games to become the
first woman to win the same individual track and field event at three
Already Adams is one of only nine track and field
competitors to have won world championships in youth, junior and senior level,
and the only woman to have won four consecutive world championships in the same
And yet when she gets together with family, Adams accepts
that among her 17 brothers and sisters — the children of her father, Sid — she
is only the second best-known outside her native New Zealand.
Her youngest brother, Steven, is center for the Oklahoma
City Thunder who — with his wild hair and lavish moustaches — was one of the
stars of last season's NBA playoffs. Two other brothers have played
professional basketball within New Zealand.
Adams' rise to her status as probably the best female shot
putter in history, has not been without injuries, struggle and disappointment.
"All those obstacles I've had to overcome have made me
stronger, mentally, physically and emotionally," Adams told New Zealand's
Fairfax Media. "A lot of athletes probably would have retired by now
because it was a long stretch coming back, but I didn't want to go out like
"I knew I had at least one more left in me. I wanted to
come back and retire on my own terms."
While Adams first announced herself by winning the world
youth title in 2001 at the age of 16 and further demonstrated her talent by
winning the junior title the following year, she has negotiated a career path
beset by obstacles and setbacks.
Also read: Dream Team to depart Atlanta for Rio
Adams was fifth at her first world championships in 2003,
when she was 18, and seventh at her first Olympics at Athens in 2004 when she
competed only weeks after an appendectomy.
The most significant early result of her senior career came
in 2005 when she won a world championship bronze medal and had her first taste
of competition with her contentious rival, Nadzeya Ostapchuk.
That rivalry reached its pinnacle at the 2012 London
Olympics when Adams, the defending champion, was beaten into second place by
But the Belarussian subsequently tested positive for a
banned steroid and Adams was promoted to first place, receiving her gold medal
at a ceremony in Auckland several weeks later and denied a proper celebration
at the games.
In 2010, Adams split from long-time coach and friend Kirsten
Hellier, an unpleasant epidsode in her career which also preceded a winning
streak which lasted five years and 56 competitions.
When Adams was finally beaten, at a Diamond League meeting
in Paris in July 2015, it was because she was making a tentative return from a
double injury which threatened to upset her bid to win her third Olympics gold
Adams had surgery to repair chronic damage to her right
elbow and to remove a bone fragment from her right shoulder — the most severe
of many injuries in her career.
She struggled on her return and it seemed her lengthy reign
as the world's best female shot putter was ending. But with typical tenacity
Adams has rallied.
She won Diamond League meetings in Morocco and Rome this year,
was second in Birmingham then won again in Monaco in July, throwing more than
20 meters for the first time since 2014. That helped convince Adams that she is
on track for the defense of her Olympics title.
Adams will be without her coach Jean Pierre Egger, who
injured his knee injury at Monaco, but said "the bus continues on the Team
After a difficult year with injuries, she feels the onset of
her best form.
"We are getting back our mojo from a couple of years
ago and that's something I've missed a lot," Adams said. "It's great
to have the feeling I'm able to dominate my training as opposed to it
dominating me like it did last year. All these small things help with taking a
positive outlook to the event coming up.
"I have goals I want to achieve. People have their
expectations but the biggest expectations always come from within."For
the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us
on Twitter and like our Facebook page.