Kiwis urged to join Val's celebrations

By Michael Dickison

Public encouraged to watch waterfront fireworks after shot-putter gets her gold.

Valerie Adams left London's Heathrow Airport yesterday for home and her gold-medal presentation in Auckland. Photo / Supplied
Valerie Adams left London's Heathrow Airport yesterday for home and her gold-medal presentation in Auckland. Photo / Supplied

Kiwis are being encouraged to head to Auckland's waterfront tonight to watch celebratory fireworks in honour of shot-putter Valerie Adams' Olympic gold medal ceremony.

Adams is set to arrive in Auckland this morning after departing from Heathrow yesterday.

"I can't wait to get home," she said. "I know friends and family will be waiting for me at the airport and I'm so excited about the medal ceremony. It's just what I wanted."

South Auckland schools were invited to welcome her at the airport.

Adams will receive her gold in a special ceremony at the Cloud, on the waterfront - a medal earned after her rival was disqualified for doping.

She said on Twitter yesterday: "Just laid eyes on my gold medal oh how beautiful. Can't wait to have it around my neck."

The Queens Wharf event is limited to 2500 ticketholders, but the ceremony will screen on TV from 7pm and be streamed online from 6.45pm.

In Auckland and Wellington, fireworks will be let off at 7.25pm.

Fourteen Kiwi Olympians, including most of this year's gold medallists, are expected to attend, and the medal will be presented by Governor-General Jerry Mateparae, the New Zealand Olympic Committee patron.

NZ Olympic songwriting competition winner Sam RB will perform.

"This is the very first time an Olympic gold medal will be presented in New Zealand and is an incredible opportunity for Kiwis to be proud and get involved," said the New Zealand Olympic Committee's secretary-general, Kereyn Smith.

Adams' gold was last week retrieved from disgraced Belarusian rival Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who was stripped of the medal she won in London after testing positive for the banned substance metenolone.

Adams said last week she was looking forward to celebrating her gold medal with her country. "A public celebration on the night I arrive ... is wonderful. It's exactly what I wanted."

Adams has been in Switzerland where she won gold in the season's final Diamond League competition.

Why is medal ceremony a closed event?

A national celebration for our Olympic champion is restricted to 2500 well-wishers, including 500 sponsors - prompting some questioning about its exclusivity.

"Watch it live on TV One or TV3 or stream it [online], or head out to one of the many vantage points around Auckland's harbour," said Ashley Abbott, spokeswoman for the New Zealand Olympic Committee, which is part funded by the government organisation Sport NZ.

The vantage points, however, were for fireworks after the ceremony, Ms Abbot clarified, not for the ceremony itself.

Ms Abbott would not elaborate whether there would be anything else if people without tickets ventured down to Queens Wharf.

Last week, she explained that the ceremony met Valerie Adams' needs.

"It's what she wants and she's really happy about it," Ms Abbott said.

The sponsor, ANZ Bank, said although it was a public ceremony, tickets had to be limited for safety reasons. A few unanswered messages have been left on the bank's Facebook page asking about the exclusivity.

"It's a shame it's not somewhere public like Aotea Square followed by a parade - so many more people could be part of it. Valerie is such a great champion of the people," said Andrew Mitchell.

Gloria Dam said: "Only going to be 2000 people there to help Valerie celebrate. I think it would have been much better at an All Blacks game where many more would be attending."

Timetable

6.45pm Ceremony streamed live online http://anz.co/dKWGj
6.45pm to 7.30pm nzherald.co.nz will live-stream the ceremony. Social media editor Troy Rawhiti-Forbes will also be blogging about the action from 5.30pm.
7pm Broadcast on TV One and TV3.
7.25pm Fireworks over Waitemata Harbour (and in Wellington).

At the ceremony 14 NZ Olympians.
* Governor-General Jerry Mateparae.
* Auckland Mayor Len Brown.
* MPs Nikki Kaye and Louisa Wall.
* 500 sponsors.
* 2000 radio competition winners.

- NZ Herald

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