Valerie Adams. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
If Valerie Adams wins her third Olympic shot put gold
medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, she will become one of the
greats of New Zealand sport, and not just of athletics.
Only three New Zealanders - Peter Snell, Ian Ferguson and
Paul MacDonald - have won three Olympic gold medals, but none
has done it in the same event.
Adams (28) has the chance to become the first to do it in the
same event at three separate Olympic Games.
But thoughts of another Olympic campaign were not at the
front of Adams' mind when she was in Dunedin yesterday to
promote her book, Valerie, written with Phil Gifford.
The Rio de Janeiro Olympics is the long-term goal for Adams
but there are other targets to achieve before then. There are
two more world championships and the Commonwealth Games in
Glasgow in 2014.
"It is another four years before Rio and that is the
long-term target," she told the Otago Daily Times.
"It is a goal of mine. It is just a matter of making sure the
body is still in one piece and I'm still mentally into it.
Right now it is what I want to do but I will just take each
year as it comes.
"But first and foremost on my mind are the world
championships in Moscow next year."
The greatest woman shot putter in the history of the Olympics
is Tamara Press (Soviet Union), who won gold medals at the
1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games.
Adams wants to win in Rio but not because of the record
achieved by Press.
"She is not someone I look up to," Adams said.
Press competed in the days when drug taking was commonplace,
especially by athletes from the Communist bloc.
The world women's shot put record has been held by Natalya
Lisovskaya (Soviet Union) since 1987, at 22.63m. She won the
Olympic title in 1988 and the world title in 1987 and 1991.
She is also suspected of being a drug cheat. Her world record
is 1.39m more than Adams' best of 21.24m.
Adams knows how difficult it will be to beat the world record
in the modern era where there is strict drug testing.
"It is not my goal to beat that distance," Adams said. "My
goal is to better myself as an athlete."
Adams has a strong opinion about drug cheats and believes
they should be banned for life.
"We put in a lot of hard work and train day in and day out.
We do it cleanly. When someone drug cheats, they should be
banned for life. That's my take on it."
Adams felt the sting of drug cheats at the London Olympics.
Nadzeya Ostapchuk (Belarus) won the gold medal on the day but
was later disqualified when she tested positive.
In the book, coach Jean-Pierre Egger explains how he told
Adams what would happen at the Olympics.
"You will see that she will not start in Europe, she will not
go outside her frontiers, to avoid doping control. She will
come to the Games charged with drugs."
Adams was relieved when Ostapchuk tested positive and was
stripped of her gold medal.
"She took a substance that enhanced her performance. It was
unfortunate that she wasn't caught beforehand.
I'm glad that justice has been served."
Adams leaves for Switzerland in three weeks to train with her
coach. She spends nine months of the year there.
"It is hard. That is the biggest heartache for me when I am
away, being away from New Zealand, leaving my family here,"
"But it is part of my life's journey and what I have to do
and what I choose to do."
The Olympic champion was pleased by the support she has had
from fellow New Zealanders after the Olympics.
It was an emotional time for Adams when she stood on the
podium and received the silver medal at London.
"I felt disappointed," she said.
"I felt I'd let everybody down.
"It was great to know there was so much support and so much
love from the public. It's been overwhelming for me."
Adams grew up in South Auckland and has been an inspiration
to people in the region since becoming Olympic champion.
"I've been very busy and haven't had time to go back this
time. If I get time to go back I like to spend time with my
family. That is so important to me.
"But there is so much talent to be harvested in South
Auckland. It is just a matter of getting the right people and
the right resources in place."
Adams has enjoyed the experience of travelling around the
country promoting her book.
"I've been to places I've never been before such as Mosgiel,
Balclutha, and Gore. It's been very educational. My geography
is getting better."
At a glance
• Age: 28.
• Home: Auckland.
• Event: Shot put (personal best 21.24m).
• Coach: Jean-Pierre Egger.
• Olympic Games, gold medal 2008, 2012.
• World championships, gold medal 2007, 2009, 2011; bronze
• Commonwealth Games: Gold medal 2006, 2010; silver medal
• World record: Natalya Lisovskaya (Soviet Union) 22.63m