When we decided that it was about time we restarted our blog and interviewing our favourite athletes, there was only one person we wanted to ask first, the incomparable Queen Valerie Adams. Not only is she our favourite athlete but she’s the most dominant, the most friendly and the most fun to interview. She’s unique, an inspiration and it was an honour when she said yes.
We first met Val back in 2002 when she was just 17 years old and the newly crowned World Junior Champion, Commonwealth Games Silver medallist and competing for her continent at the World Cup in Madrid. We knew she was a star in the making but who could have guessed that she was to become the greatest Shot Putter ever, with this unprecedented list of achievements………….
Gold 2008 Beijing Shot Put
Gold 2012 London Shot Put
Gold 2007 Osaka Shot Put
Gold 2009 Berlin Shot Put
Gold 2011 Daegu Shot Put
Gold 2013 Moscow Shot Put
Silver 2005 Helsinki Shot Put
World Indoor Championships
Gold 2008 Valencia Shot Put
Gold 2012 Istanbul Shot Put
Gold 2014 Sopot Shot Put
Silver 2010 Doha Shot Put
Gold 2006 Melbourne Shot Put
Gold 2010 Delhi Shot Put
Silver 2002 Manchester Shot Put
World Cup / Continental Cup
Gold 2006 Athens Shot put
Gold 2010 Split Shot put
World Athletics Final
Gold 2008 Stuttgart Shot put
Gold 2009 Thessaloniki Shot put
Silver 2005 Monaco Shot put
Silver 2006 Stuttgart Shot put
Silver 2007 Stuttgart Shot put
(Let’s be honest, there should be a few more in there as well !!)
So let’s get on with it. Here’s Valerie Adams on her career, her ambition, her inspiration and why she hopes to inspire others.
Who was the Athletics hero(ine) that inspired you to get into the sport?
I didn’t really have an athletics hero growing up but I really looked up to Astrid Kumbernuss as a shotputter, I first met her in 2002 at the World Cup in Madrid and I was so excited to meet her and compete against her
Steve Mills: @Trackside2014
Did Beatrice Faumuina have any guiding/mentoring role back when she was first emerging.
Not directly but she was the first ever World Champion for NZ and is a strong Pacific women so this was great for the sport, NZ and pacific people including myself.
1. In 2002 you won the WJ, came 2nd at the Commonwealth Games and represented your Continent at the World Cup. Was it a surprise that success came so early?
It was a massive year, everything happened so quick but I was prepared for it and gained so much from it. Experiencing competing in the Senior ranks was something else, I was only 17 years old and was thrown into the deep end but I embraced it and came out with a massive pb at the World cup of 18.40m which just made the year. After that performance I knew that I could perform at the Senior level, although it was very scary but I kept it together :)
2. What was your back up plan if athletics hadn’t worked out?Well basketball is the game I love and still, my sister and I played at age group level and thoroughly enjoyed it. We were labeled the twin towers lol…..But basketball would have been the next sport I wanted to make a good go at. I still love to play it now although sometimes I forget how light a basketball is compared to a shotput hihih.
3. When you won WJ’s other winners included…..
What are your memories of being there and at that age what were your aims for the future?
My memory from Kingston is my last throw session and Laura Geuritty was there also who was ranked 1st or 2nd I can’t remember, but it was a mental training session, very hot but I was focused…..But obviously the best memory was hearing my national anthem being played then having the NZ boys bust out a haka right in the front of the podium, super proud moment for me and my team mates.
4. Other winners and medallists have never been heard of again, how did you make the transition?
I was more driven and my passion grew, winning the World Juniors was only a small part of being an athlete, the transition period is the hard part, I was lucky that I got to go to Com Games after the WJ even though the level was higher at Juniors it still gave me the experience on that senior level, we didn’t have any babysitters so to speak and basically have the whole country watching. I have seen many athletes make it as Juniors but can’t transition, but that just goes to show how hard it is to make it track and field but also that inner passion and drive is very important.
Have you ever thought about trying the discus or hammer again? You showed a lot of promise as a junior.
I had a play last year with the discus and to make it at the elite level and perform its hard to do 2 events. When your younger its easy cause you do everything and your body lets you, but for me I will continue to throw the shot as it is my passion and I still have some goals I was to reach.. 15 years of hammering comes with a bit of pay back lol… But my fav out of both would be the hammer…its just super fun :)
You’ve been so dominant for so long now, what drives you on to keep coming back year after year?
My small country of NZ is a massive motivation for me, I also still have some goals I want to reach and most importantly I still love what I do with a passion…
Dan O’Connor: @drdanoconnor
Do you ever get bored of winning, or at least of not being realistically (or fairly) challenged?
No I never get bored, I am at training every day training harder then ever as I know I am the hunted, the excitement from this is awesome…I know that I always gotta keep ahead and this motivates me to train and put my body through the pain…But never bored and who is ever bored of winning, we participate in elite level sport to win :)
Stephen Prior: @saprior
Which of your rivals do you think has the most potential?
Well at the moment we have a few good girls coming up, Christina from Germany has gone over that 20m line a few times, then you got Liliong Gong from China….there are some young ones coming up also. All the girl have massive potential, just comes down to technique, strength, dynamics and speed combined together.
Do you think you could go further and how far?
I would love to and I think I can, that is one of my goals for sure.
Do you think you could become the first woman to win 4 Olympic titles in one event?
Oh lord I am over the moon with 2, I am aiming for Rio then I will reassess things after that.
Can Val join Carl and Al to become only the 3rd athlete (and first woman) to win 4 Olympic titles in a row?
Do you feel the 4kg implement is the correct weight or would you rather throw a heavier one?
I feel the 4kg shot is correct with the ladies.
How do you feel about the structure and organisation of the Diamond League.
I think this is great as it gives every event to participate unlike the Golden League days where only the glamour events so to speak are included.
Did you ever feel rather frustrated by the lack of opportunities to compete on the commercial circuit when the event was completely ignored by the Golden League, and how difficult was making a career in the shot put back then because of it?
Well I am one of the lucky ones as it only impacted on the very start of my career but it is what it is and am embracing the DL circuit we have now.
Pablô Alesandrö: @Paulouk83
Do you wish the throws got more airtime and do you have any idea how the field events can get more exposure?
I do wish we got more airtime but to be honest its more frustrating for those watching at home, we as competitors, we turn up compete and out of there. Its very hard for us however to compete with track events, I mean we gotta wait for them to blow the gun and all that so, throwers gotta be extra patient and accommodating for our dear sprinters lol.
1. You’re a great role model for women in sport. In the UK there is a big issue with encouraging women to participate in sport especially something like the throws which can be seen as masculine. In her autobiography Jessica Ennis said that she doesn’t like her muscles as a teenager and I remember a UK thrower who refused to spend too much time in the gym as her husband wouldn’t like it!!! When you were younger were you ever embarrassed by your size or to do throws?
I think muscles on girls look amazing, I never think twice about doing my gym session and all as I know the purpose of why I am doing it. I think that females should embrace there god given goodness and refine it into the athlete they want to be. I am 6ft 4 inches tall and I got picked on alot when I was younger and people still stare and all that, but I love what I do and embrace my genes that my parents gave me, I can’t change this so I gotta be happy with it and I am. I also have put my genes into good use and hence why I am where I am today. I hope that I can inspire females to get out there and do there thang cause if it makes them feel amazing then you have succeeded to do something for you… Btw I think your husband is scared you might out lift him hahaha… EMBRACE LADIES..YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE :)
2. How can we encourage women to be proud of their size and strength ?
Being happy with how you are physically is very important to the females emotional feelings also. So be happy with yourself, have that confidence to tell yourself in the mirror you are a beautiful strong women then you get out there and do yo business. This world needs more strong women.
Why are you such a goddess? In seriousness what Do you think your success has done for athletics in New Zealand?
I think it has bought more publicity to our sport but also I know there are more participating in track and field. If I can inspire one person to change there lives for ever I will be one happy lady. Athletics in NZ is still a small sport but our results is not gone unnoticed and has raised the profile of track and field.
Were the rumours ever true that you were considering a switch to the UK?
No not true, I love NZ :)
Dan O’Connor: @drdanoconnor
Do you like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, what with them all being filmed in NZ?
Both films has bought so much publicity to our small country and it also showcased our beautiful landscape. I myself am not a big fan but I love the fact people I have met around the world associate both movies to NZ.
Which other athletics events do you enjoy watching the most? Which other sports do you enjoy watching?
I love watching any other throwing event and Basketball is a sport I love so much at all levels. I support our Breakers team in Auckland at home, here in Swiss I get to the Neuchatel games and my little brother plays for the Oklahoma City Thunders.
Val’s ‘little’ brother Steven is a star basketball player in US
Gabriella Pieraccini: @smokymozzarella
Other than a sackload of medals, do you collect (or pilfer!) any souvenirs from all the Games and Champs you’ve been to?
Well the duvet covers I collect, also my bib numbers I collect and Starbucks cups :)
Where do you get that cool looking back support…. and do they come in matching wrist and ankle bands?
I get it from Nordic Sport from a awesome guy in the US Jeff Gorski, I love this belt so much as it supports my back really well when throwing. And yes I believe you can get matching wrist and ankle brace
Don’t you think it’s time to bring back the tug of war to the Olympics?
Lol yeah for managers and support staff
Maureen Parker: @victrackgirl
1. Do you have any cue words you use before stepping into the circle?
Push Long long long…
2. If you were not an a athlete what would you do?
Well I am not sure and I dont want to know tbh but I am sure it would be something to do with sports.
Would you like a job at UKA as Head Female shot coach?
Sure let me retire and come on over hahahaha…..Still gotta career to complete :)
That’s it folks
A big thank you to Valerie for taking the time for us and her fans
Next up is Jodie Williams http://jodybayosathleticsspectacular.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/jodie-williams-fan-interview/ get your questions in asap :-)