26 Jul 2016

Valerie Adams' Beijing triumph

3:14 pm on 26 July 2016

Golden Moments - When Valerie Adams arrived at the shot put final of the 2008 Beijing Olympics she was attempting to win New Zealand's first gold in track and field since John Walker in 1976.

New Zealand shotputter Valerie Vili takes out the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics final.

New Zealand shot-putter Valerie Vili takes out the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics final. Photo: Photosport

By the time Adams entered Beijing she had won world youth titles, she was the 2006 Commonwealth Champion, as well as the reigning World indoor champion, and World champion.

But in 2008 there were two Belarusians in her way.

Her sights were on the gold medal but when she walked into the Bird's Nest she was ranked number three in the world. The Belarusians were one and two and they'd had massive throws leading into the games.

"This was playing in the back of my mind and you have to always make sure you don't take rankings into consideration when you go into a major championship, anything can happen," Adams later reflected.

Valerie Vili takes out the the gold medal in the final of the women's shot put at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Valerie Vili in the final of the women's shot put at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Photo: Photosport

On her first attempt Adams threw an imposing 20.56m. She had thrown down the gauntlet to her competitors, but she could not let her guard down.

Adams launched more impressive distances but her first attempt was her best.

When Natallia Mikhnevich of Bulgaria, who had thrown 20.28m to lie in the silver medal position took the last throw of the evening, Adams could only watch and wait.

The throw wasn't good enough and Adams' dream was realised.

Later Adams said relief was what she felt first.

"It was just the most incredible moment ever. I think you reflect back on the past 10 years of hard work and sweat to get to this moment and you try and savour it for as long as possible because let me tell you once it's done it's done. To be able to beat both Belarusians was amazing for me because they'd dominated the event for such a long time."

Adams had to wait a day to get onto the podium but that did not bother her.

The Olympic shot put champion had more than a tear in her eye when the national anthem was played and the flag was raised.

She was the first woman to win gold in track and field for New Zealand since Yvette Williams in 1952.

Olympic champion shotputter Valerie Vili collects her gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Olympic champion shot-putter Valerie Vili collects her gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Photo: Photosport

Adams defended her title at the 2012 London Olympics, but initially finished second behind the Belarusian athlete Nadzeya Ostapchuk. When Ostapchuk was subsequently disqualified for performance-enhancing drugs, Adams was reinstated as the Olympic gold medallist.

Rio will be Adams' fourth Olympic Games.

Adams has been the dominant women's shot putter in the world since 2006 and enjoyed an unprecedented winning streak of 56 competitions between 2010 and 2014.

She was the IAAF world female athlete of the year for 2014.

Adams is on the comeback after shoulder and elbow surgery in 2014. She finished third at the recent World Indoor Championships.

Adams won the Halberg Sportswoman of the Year award for seven consecutive years from 2006 - 2012. She has also been awarded the NZOC's Lonsdale Cup in 2006, 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2014.

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