Damehood beckons for determined Adams
Kiwi shot put legend Valerie Adams will be made a Dame on January 1 after a decade of sporting dominance, including two Olympic golds.
31 December 2016
Shot put requires power, discipline, technical proficiency, dynamism and sheer brute force.
In other words, the sport suits Valerie Adams down to a tee.
The two-time Olympic gold-medallist has achieved it all in her track and field career, including seven consecutive New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year gongs from 2006 to 2012.
Four World Championship golds, three Commonwealth Games golds, a 56-meet winning streak and 14 domestic titles tell an even better story of excellence.
But on Sunday, the 32-year-old Kiwi will receive a completely different type of accolade, having already become an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Valerie Adams will become, from January 1, Dame Valerie Adams.
"To be honest, I'm actually speechless, and I'm not normally very speechless," she told New Zealand Newswire.
"I'm really overwhelmed."
Born in Rotorua, Dame Valerie grew up in south Auckland, where she shattered regional junior athletics awards and set her first sights on shot put glory.
World Youth Championships gold followed, before silver at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and gold four years later in Melbourne.
Commonwealth victory presaged an era of near-total dominance for Dame Valerie, who won gold in Beijing and, in 2010, ushered in her extraordinary 56-meet spell.
London Olympic glory coincided with that run in 2012, thanks to the doping disqualification of Belarusian nemesis Nadzeya Ostapchuk.
But then, disaster.
Knee, elbow and shoulder injuries crippled her at the top of her game, with five trips to the surgeon's table almost forcing her to call it a day.
But, digging deep, she emerged after two years of rehabilitation at the Rio Olympics to earn silver with an impressive 20.42m.
It was well off her 2011 personal best of 21.24m but by far her finest post-recovery throw, bettered only by USA ace Michelle Carter's 20.63m.
More importantly, it was a sign she'd won the battle with her own body.
"I went through a lot of dark moments during all that," she said.
"But I found that inner competitiveness, that fight and hunger for my sport, and the fact I still had unfinished business, to come back."
Having previously committed to retirement after the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Cast, she said she was now keen to keep her options open.
A tilt at a fourth Olympics shot put medal in Tokyo may be on the cards, but only if she could stay at the top of her game.
"If I can get a second wind up at the Commonwealth Games, and I feel like it's going to be all on, then I'm going through to Tokyo 2020," Dame Valerie said.
"But it isn't for another four years, so for the time being I'm looking towards smaller goals, and we'll work towards those."
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