Athletics: Adams soaks up fourth title

By Andrew Alderson in Moscow

Val Adams seldom lets the big occasion get the better of her.

Such was the case at Luzhniki Stadium this morning (New Zealand time) where she blitzed the field in the women's shot put with a winning throw of 20.88m. Adams secured her fourth world championship title in the process, a record for any male or female shot putter.

Adams' joy was boundless. She even bear-hugged the suited chap presenting her medal, causing him to recalibrate his carefully-tied double Windsor knot and unruffle his blazer.

She came prepared, too. Neatly-written messages in black vivid were revealed on the palms of her hands. The right had 70th birthday wishes for her beloved coach Jean-Pierre Egger; the left said "Thank you, Russia". It was a poignant touch as she stood at the top of the dais and listened to the national anthem, an honour denied last year when Nadzeya Ostapchuk won at the London Olympics but was subsequently disqualified for a positive drugs test. Tomorrow marks a year since Adams was promoted to Olympic champion.

The significance was not lost.

"I think I went a little crazy on the dais," Adams said. "Receiving the gold medal and enjoying the moment was something Jean-Pierre and I should have been able to do last year.

Sport is what we do but unfortunately drugs play a big part in it. Tonight shows kids out there that we can do it clean. You've just got to work hard."

Adams' winning throw was 2cm shy of her season best and 36cm short of her personal best and the meet record. However, to put the victory into context, just one of the 28-year-old's five valid throws was less than second-place getter Christina Schwanitz's personal best 20.41m. China's Lijiao Gong was third with 19.95m.

"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 paid particular tribute not only to her coach but also long-serving physiotherapist Louise Johnson.

"She came over to Switzerland three times this year to keep things under control. She's a lifesaver. We've been together 13 years; it's like a marriage. I love her with all my heart.

"It was also great to experience this with Jean-Pierre who competed here at the Olympic Games. I was able to relive some of what he did back then [in 1980]. That was special. We had this little communication thing going on through the competition; it was just him and me. I could see how proud he was, despite being so far way. There was some sort of telepathic feeling between us."

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.

"He brings his binoculars because his vision is not that great but he still looks young enough to earn the nicknames 'Super Mario' and 'Magnum PI'. He looks amazing at 70, plus he's just as motivated as me which makes training easier and successful. He still has a passion which makes us click. He's like a father to me. I love the man. We have fun but can be serious when we need to be."

- Herald on Sunday

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