Athletics: Adams wins fourth world title

By Andrew Alderson in Moscow

Val Adams has taken her fourth world championship title to become the most prolific male or female shot putter in history.

The 28-year-old's best throw of 20.88 eclipsed the field by 47cm. The next best thrower was Christina Schwanitz of Germany who threw a personal best 20.41m. China's Lijiao Gong was second until the final round with 19.95m.

What's more, Adams has completed the feat in consecutive meets. She first triumphed at Osaka in 2007, followed by Berlin and Daegu. She has also secured two Olympic titles in between, further cementing herself as one of the country's athletics greats.

Adams was all pink shoes, chalk dust and cries of exertion as she terminated the field on a balmy Russian evening.

There might be an element of disappointment that she could not match the 21.24m world championship record set by herself in 2011 and Soviet Natalya Lisovskaya in 1987.

She also fell two centimetres short of her season's best. However, that will be quickly forgotten. Adams will be able to stand on the dais and hear the national anthem, an honour stolen from her last year at the London Olympics before Nadzeya Ostapchuk was disqualified for doping.

"Team Val" coach Jean-Pierre Egger sat eight rows directly behind Adams in the stands. He brought out his field glasses on occasion to inspect her handiwork and allowed himself the liberty of the odd thumbs-up to her (and the camera) as their training relationship paid further dividends.

"It was the most amazing feeling to do that for New Zealand, to create history and give my coach a 70th birthday present," Adams said.

"I told him coming here to the mixed zone that it is down to the hard work and discipline we've been through.

"It's been a bit harder this year with injuries, even if it seemed calm from the outside looking in. A win's a win. Throwing more than 21m would have been great but, what the hell, I've got four of these babies now [Adams points to her medal].

"It's great to be able to set the standard for my teammates and I'm just f****** stoked."

Adams marched steadily on with throws of 20.41m, 20.46m, 20.88m and 20.76m.

Egger, who competed at the stadium in the Moscow Olympics, offered subtle hints after her no throw on the fourth attempt. His eyes twinkled behind an meticulously-trimmed moustache.

It is apt Adams secured a world title in Moscow where the world record (22.63m in 1987) and Olympic record (22.41m in 1980) were set in during a dubious period.

Adams might sit 23rd on the all-time list of throwers, but she enhanced her own legacy in the sport with New Zealand's fifth world championship gold.

Nineteen of the 22 superior personal bests came between 1973 and 1990 when drugs in the discipline were rife. The three other marks were set by athletes who, before or since, tested positive for banned substances. The last was Belarussian Nadzeya Ostapchuk's 21.58m in July 2012. The IAAF governing body has not expunged any of these efforts from the record books.

Before Adams, New Zealand had one world championship since the event's 1983 inception - Beatrice Faumuina's 1997 discus title.

- Herald on Sunday

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