Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Athletics: Machine hones Val to give it her best shot

Adams is in line for an eighth straight Halberg award for sportswoman of the year if the judges rate her ahead of golfer Lydia Ko. Photo / AP
Adams is in line for an eighth straight Halberg award for sportswoman of the year if the judges rate her ahead of golfer Lydia Ko. Photo / AP

An eccentric-concentric machine is the only thing missing from Val Adams' Christmas wish list.

The ECM is a bespoke apparatus developed by Jean-Pierre Egger when he coached former world champion discus thrower Werner Gunthor in the 1980s. Adams has used it every December since entering Egger's stable three years ago. It forms part of a pre-season training bloc building up her arms and legs using squats and bench presses.

As Egger explains, the pneumatic machine requires more than one person to use. It works on muscles when descending for a squat or a press with a weight which is, for argument's sake, 120 per cent of your capacity and ascends with a weight 80 per cent of capacity. Adams reckons the benefits of using the machine are visible within a month.

Who could argue? The 29-year-old won her fourth consecutive world title in August, becoming the first woman field athlete to secure four world championship gold medals. She's unbeaten in 42 straight meets stretching back to August 2010 when she was beaten by Nadzeya Ostapchuk, a proven drugs cheat later.

She is in line for an eighth straight Halberg award for sportswoman of the year if the judges rate her ahead of golfer Lydia Ko. Adams says she'll be enjoying the night without seeking external gratification.

"I want to maintain my performances regardless of who wins. It's a big night but we celebrate and move on."

Adams is in a happy place when the Herald on Sunday meet her and Egger at the Millennium Institute, a venue where her image beams from most exterior and interior walls. Adams says "it's like 'Where's Wally?'". Earlier in the day, Adams had beaten the qualification mark for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games post-surgery with a standing throw (in excess of 18.30m).

"Three-and-a-half months is the longest I've gone since touching the shot as a professional athlete," Adams says. "But I'm an impatient patient. I wanted to check where we were at with J-P."

"The surgery is holding up well. I strapped my ankle for two years straight and didn't do that today. It felt great.

"Sometimes I think the only thing people remember are the medals but don't know what goes into that. We put our bodies through hell strapping ankles, knees, wrists and elbows. There are always niggles but we fight through them."

In the NZ Herald earlier this month, columnist Chris Rattue spoke of Adams' Victory March Fatigue and the notion people expect her to win.

"That's absolutely right," Adams says. "People assume it will happen but it's harder to stay there than get there. I'm always nervous at meets, so I pump myself up to psyche out competitors. I can't just walk in and win. The pressure is always on."

Egger has few commitments on his southern trip with wife Beatrice other than instructions to "be in Auckland by January 6" when he and Adams resume full training. He will celebrate Christmas in Queenstown before sampling the West Coast and Kaikoura's whale watching. Adams is scheduled to spend three days with family in Tonga. Her next international event is March's world indoor championships in Poland. Then it's a return to Switzerland in April.

- Herald on Sunday

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