News & Updates

1 March 2022 • Track and Field

Dame Valerie Adams calls time on her competitive career

Dame Valerie Adams called time on her incomparable career today at AUT Millennium. (Credit: Alisha Lovrich)

New Zealand sporting icon Dame Valerie Adams has called time on her incomparable shot put career at AUT Millennium, Auckland today after a remarkable international career spanning more than 20 years.

Dame Valerie is one of New Zealand’s greatest ever athletes and steps away from her influential and medal-laden competitive career boasting a huge legacy.

Dame Valerie said: “Whilst today marks the end of my shotput career, Athletics will always be a part of my life. I have given my heart and soul to this sport and loved and nurtured it from a young age.”

During her illustrious career the Kiwi represented her country at five Olympic Games winning four medals (two gold, one silver and one bronze), she also claimed eight world titles, five Commonwealth medals (three gold and two silver) and enjoyed a staggering streak of 107 successive shot put victories from 2006 to 2015.

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,” says Dame Valerie.  

Dame Valerie fully intends to 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. She is excited to work more in her community, with her sponsors and will feature in a theatrical documentary on her life and sporting career.

Dame Valerie said: “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 Adams flowed from the New Zealand sporting community.

Pete Pfitzinger CEO 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.”

Chief Executive of Sport NZ, Raelene Castle says “Dame Valerie is a true icon of the World Athletics and New Zealand sporting landscapes. ‘DVA’ has won many gold medals that has made us all proud but equally importantly she has inspired her community to believe achieving on the world stage is possible. Her legacy is wide and deep and everyone at HPSNZ sends their congratulations and thanks. We look forward to working together on the next phase of your career.”

NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith thanked Dame Valerie for her extensive contribution to New Zealand sport, saying “Dame Valerie has been a valued member New Zealand team for two decades, both through her performances and her actions on and off the field of play. An inspiring athlete leader, Dame Valerie embodies the values of the New Zealand Team and her drive and determination have been second to none.”

The former Athletics NZ Performance Director Scott Goodman, who for a period also coached Dame Valerie, said: “Having been fortunate to work with Dame Valerie over the last ten years I have no doubt that her future contributions as a community leader, sports leader and parent will be even more significant than her amazing achievements as an athlete.  All the very best DVA to you and your whanau.”

ABOUT DAME VALERIE ADAMS

Born in Rotorua, Dame Valerie began her extraordinary 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.

After undergoing a series of surgeries to shoulder, elbow and knee she missed most of the 2015 season but bounced back to win Olympic silver at the 2016 Rio Games.

In 2017 she gave birth to her daughter, Kimoana, and was also named a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.  She returned to competition in 2018 and won Commonwealth Games silver in Gold Coast, before giving birth to her second child, Kepaleli, in 2019.

Last year Dame Valerie returned to the Olympic arena for the fifth time and capped her astonishing career by winning bronze at the Tokyo Games – a medal she described as one of her most cherished.

The New Zealand great also won 17 national shot titles and was crowned New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year at the Halberg Awards on seven successive occasions from 2006-2012. She was also the Supreme Award winner at the Halberg Awards for three consecutive years from 2007-2009.

An icon of the sport not only in New Zealand but internationally, she was crowned female World Athletics Athlete of the Year in 2014.

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