Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Athletics: Adams puts her game face on for Olympics

New Zealand's Valerie Adams. Photo / Brett Phibbs
New Zealand's Valerie Adams. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Her game face has been perfected and the rest of her body is in pretty good shape too as Valerie Adams prepares to defend her Olympic shot put title.

In her final press conference before she competes in London on August 6, Adams - New Zealand's big gold medal hope - talked of the pressure to succeed again, tweaking her technique a little, and the psychological warfare she wages over her rivals.

The latter point was perhaps the most revelatory as she spoke of the sport's mental aspect and throwers attempting to "pysch" each other out in the heat of competition.

Asked about her stern look when in top meets, Adams, never one to mince words, replied: "It's my game face. It's the don't 'f' with me look. I just go in there thinking about one thing and that's smacking the crap out of it and being focused on how much I can throw and putting pressure on the other throwers.

"I have to play my game. You just have to plan and prepare for anything that may crop up. You do play the psych game, it's all part of the competition, everyone tries to psych everybody else out and I do the same thing. Whoever does it best on the day is the champ."

She said she was in top shape and her form backs that up. Adams threw 20.67 metres at the Sydney Track Classic on Saturday night, a big improvement on her 20.35m and 20.19m at the International Track Meet and Porritt Classic in recent weeks.

The throw represented Adams' seventh best distance of her career, setting up a classic contest with arch rival Nadezhda Ostapchuk at the world indoor championships in Istanbul in three weeks.

Ostapchuk threw 20.70m indoors in Belarus last weekend - Adams' best is 21.24m.

The Istanbul meet will be Adams' last major event before London and she said that is where the mind games will start.

"I'm in the best shape that I've ever been at this time of the year. Physically as prepared as I could be at this time of year. I feel like everything is on track. [Coach] Jean-Pierre [Egger] is very happy with how things are going so far. He leaves on Sunday for Switzerland after being here for a couple of months training with me and obviously it's all paid off. He's quite happy with the progress I've made, especially with myself being in Switzerland in December and we've been able to carry on the work we've done over there."

Adams said Egger wanted her to work on getting more speed across the circle, adding she owed some big recent advances to him.

"He made me bust my ass last year in with a lot of work being done in and out of the gym. I've really got him to thank for all the advances I've made in the gym and out in the circle throwing."

She said the the pressure was an ever-present for her, but it was something that she enjoyed.

"There is the pressure there, whether I like it or not. Being the reigning Olympic or world champion, it is a hard title to carry but at the same time, you have to take the challenges as they come. It is Olympic year, it comes around every four years and it's the pinnacle of my sporting career and everyone else's. They're going there to win, I'm going to be prepared as I can be come August 6 then I can give all I have to try to win my title back. The pressure is there and yes there's more there this year than any other year but that's what I like."


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