News & Updates

9 April 2024 • High Performance

Lisa Adams calls time on golden career

Lisa Adams retained her Para athletics world title in Paris last year. Credit: (Jodi Hanagan).

World and Paralympic shot put F37 champion Lisa Adams has decided to retire from the sport with immediate effect putting the full stop on a glittering and gold medal-laden career on the global stage.

After lengthy consideration Lisa has made the decision to focus on being a mum and to spend more time with her 11-year-old son, Hikairo.

She leaves the sport boasting a huge legacy across her six-year career winning two Para world titles and Tokyo Paralympic shot put F37 gold. She is also the current owner of the world shot F37 record.

“It has not been an easy decision to retire from athletics,” explains Lisa. “The sport has given me so much and many happy memories, but I just felt the passion and energy to keep training every day was no longer there.”

“Some might wonder at the timing of my decision so close to the Para Athletics World Championships and with the Paralympic Games on the horizon, but I felt I had given it all I could. Following retirement, I look forward to spending more time as a mum.”

Diagnosed with left hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy from an early age, Lisa was a late starter to the sport of athletics. Identified as an athlete of potential by Athletics NZ Para Lead Raylene Bates, who had read an article about Lisa playing rugby union, she was encouraged to throw the shot put and discus.

Making her competitive debut aged 27 at the 2018 Victorian Championships in Melbourne her huge potential was immediately apparent and later that season she completed the Para shot and discus double at the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Hamilton.

Making rapid progress she continued to impress and less than 18 months after taking up the sport she produced a stunning display at the 2019 Para Athletics World Championships in Dubai. Claiming victory by a near two-metre margin, she dominated the final of the women’s shot F37 setting a world record mark of 14.80m.

In 2020 she bettered this mark with a huge toss of 15.28m at the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Christchurch before later that year posting the existing world record mark of 15.50m in Hastings to further underline her special talent.

The Rotorua-based athlete maintained her dominance at the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games setting four Paralympic records with a best of 15.12m to claim gold by a commanding victory margin of almost a metre-and-a-half.

In 2022 Lisa added the Oceania title to her growing collection and last year she successfully retained her Para World crown in Paris adding 4cm to her championship record with a best toss of 14.84m.

After undergoing shoulder surgery in September last year, she made her final competitive outing at the 2024 Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Wellington last month.

She retires from the sport as one of the all-time Para athletics greats in Aotearoa and with an unbeaten record in pinnacle events.

Lisa, 33, also departs with Para athletics in New Zealand on the crest of a wave following the team’s nine-medal haul at the 2023 Para Athletics World Championships in Paris.

“I leave the sport with no regrets,” she says. “I am immensely proud with what I achieved in my six years in athletics with the highlight winning gold in Tokyo knowing I shared the same circle as big sister (Dame Valerie), who won her fourth shot put Olympic medal just a few weeks earlier.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to my big sister Valerie for guiding me throughout my athletics career, I will be forever grateful for her loyal and faithful support.

“It is too early to say what next for me, I’m taking some time to rest, come home and be mum. It is awesome to see how the profile of Para athletics has developed in recent times and I will be fully supporting the New Zealand team from the couch at both the Para Athletics World Championships and Paralympic Games.”

Athletics NZ High Performance Director Scott Newman said: “Lisa is a deeply respected and popular member of our team and retires with our sincere thanks for all she has achieved in our sport.

“She has dominated her event globally and leaves a world record that will likely stand for many years to come. We will miss her larger-than-life personality and wish her all the very best in the future.”

Double Olympic shot put champion Dame Valerie Adams said: “I’ve learned so much while coaching my sister Lisa, it’s been an incredible experience with incredible memories made together. Her transformation from a young mother to an inspiring and resilient athlete and woman is a testament to her perseverance and commitment. I am so proud of all that Lisa has accomplished during her time participating in this amazing sport of athletics.”

Paralympics NZ CEO Greg Warnecke said Lisa’s impact on the Paralympic movement in New Zealand has been significant.

“Paralympian #210 Lisa Adams thrilled New Zealanders and created one of the most iconic moments in our Paralympic history when she smashed the Paralympic record four times en route to gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. As she retires from Para athletics, she remains an incredible role model for the Paralympians of tomorrow. We wish her all the best for her next chapter.”

Raelene Castle, Group Chief Executive, Sport New Zealand, said: “Congratulations to Lisa. Through her Paralympic career she has equally advocated for female athletes and athletes with a disability. We talk about ‘if you can see it, you can be it’ and in that context Lisa has been a fantastic role model for young people with cerebral palsy. We respect her decision to step away from high performance sport and wish her the best for the future.”