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19 July 2022

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Dame Valerie Adams announces retirement

Tuesday 1 March 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in New Zealand, Regional

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Dame Valerie Adams announces retirement
Dame Valerie Adams with her children Kepaleli and Kimoana after announcing her retirement from shot put. PHOTO: BRETT PHIBBS/22022824

Two-time Olympic shot put champion Dame Valerie Adams has confirmed her retirement from international competition.

Dame Valerie leaves the sport with four Olympic medals and four world indoor and outdoor titles.

After 22 years competing for New Zealand, she made the announcement in Auckland yesterday.

She won her first world title at the youth level in 2001, won the first of three Commonwealth Games gold medals in 2006 and her first Olympic title in 2008.

Dame Valerie has been named New Zealand sportswoman of the year seven times.

The 37-year-old says her heart, mind and body decided now was the time to leave her shot put career.

After a competitive career which began at the age of 14 the Auckland-based mum-of-two leaves the shot circle with a heavy heart but with the knowledge that she can devote more time to her loving family.

“Representing Aotearoa for the last 22 years has given me so much joy. As my life's work, I am humbled to show that little New Zealand has what it takes to be the best in the world. My mind is happy as I look forward to spending more time with my beautiful family,” she says.

Dame Valerie will remain associated with the sport as coach to her sister and Paralympic shot put F37 champion Lisa Adams and in her various roles as Deputy Chair to the World Athletics Athletes' Commission, Chair of the Oceania Athlete Commission and Chair of the Athletics NZ High Performance Athletes’ Commission.

“There are too many people to thank who have been on my journey - from my family and friends who have supported and guided me through my career to my support teams at Athletics NZ, the coaches I have had the pleasure of working with, High Performance Sport NZ, NZ Olympic Committee, all those on board Team Adams, my sponsors, the athletics community around the world and most importantly the New Zealand public.

“And, last but not least to my darling husband Gabriel, Kimoana, Kepaleli and mum - thank you for allowing me to fulfil my dreams and for being my biggest drive and inspiration.”

Tributes to Dame Valerie have flowed from the New Zealand sporting community.

Pete Pfitzinger chief executive officer at Athletics NZ said: “Without question Dame Valerie has been the most inspirational and successful New Zealand track and field athlete of her generation and it is very hard in a couple of sentences to encapsulate the impact of her accomplishments. Her sustained excellence and longevity at the top coupled with her fierce competitive spirit has allowed her to thrive not only here in New Zealand but also as a global track and field star. We wish her every success in her future endeavours.”

After competing in her fifth Olympics in Tokyo last year, Dame Valerie said she wanted to inspire female athletes around the world and show that it was possible to return to the top after having children.

In the 2017 New Year Honours, Dame Valerie was named a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Born in Rotorua, Dame Valerie began her international career at the age of 14 finishing in tenth place at the 1999 World U18 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Showing the signs of her fierce competitive instincts and will to succeed which epitomised her career she returned for the next edition of the World U18 Championships two years later in Debrecen, Hungary and struck gold to claim the first of her bountiful collection of global titles.

The following year she added the World U20 title in Kingston, Jamaica and also earned her first senior championship medal with silver at the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

In 2004 on her Olympic debut in Athens, Dame Valerie placed seventh before the following year continuing her upwardly mobile progress by winning silver at the World Championships in Helsinki.

Dame Valerie claimed the first of her three successive Commonwealth shot titles in Melbourne in 2006. Following defeat later that year in the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart she then went on to embark on an unprecedented streak of shot put success winning 107 successive finals spanning the next nine years.

During this incomparable sequence of shot victories, she claimed back-to-back Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games, she won four successive world outdoor crowns and four straight World Indoor titles and also added a further two Commonwealth gold medals to her remarkable CV.

Dame Valerie also posted her lifetime best and Oceania record mark of 21.24m at the 2011 World Championships.