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Val's biggest fan wins trip to Rio

Valerie Adams will have extra cheering power in her corner at the Rio Games as she bids to become New Zealand's greatest Olympian.

The world champion and twice Olympic gold medal winner has had a decade-plus sponsorship with Visa International who today completed a quest to find Adams' greatest fan.

The global payments technology company ran a nation-wide competition and brought the eight finalists to Auckland for a series of challenges today.

In the end, Aucklander Jack Wheeler came up trumps and proved himself to be Adams' "biggest fan".

"I can't quite believe it....I'm off to Rio to see Val throw for gold," said Wheeler who proved himself to be a walking encyclopaedia when it came to Adams' sporting background.

Wheeler won a Visa-provided trip for two to Rio including airfares and accommodation, spending money and tickets to four major Olympic events including the women's shot put where Adams will be chasing Olympic history.

Wheeler had to negotiate two challenges against other Adams fans before taking part in a two-person final where the contenders were asked 20 questions about the Auckland star's sporting prowess.

Two contenders were eliminated in the first challenge where the finalists were required to stride out the distance of Adams' best ever throw of 21.24 metres and place a shot put down on a mock throwing strip.

The second challenge, involving a gumball machine, eliminated four more finalists.

Wheeler was then pitted against the remaining contender in fielding 20 quick fire questions on Adams. He only got through 18 before the end of the time limit but scored 17 correct.

"I actually hit the wrong answer by mistake on the one I got wrong and thought to myself 'I've just blown a trip to Rio'. But luckily it turned out OK," he said.

Adams skyped in from her Switzerland training base, where she is building up for the elite Diamond League series ahead of the Olympics, to congratulate Wheeler, saying she was looking forward to meeting him in Rio.

"I'm still buzzing," he said at the end of the promotion. "I'm looking to take my lovely partner Meagan with me."

Adams said she had taken a special interest in the outcome.

"Given it was all about Visa helping to find my greatest fan, of course I wanted to be heavily involved," she joked. "It's one of the reasons Visa is my longest standing sponsor and I love them so much. They do things like this to show they are right behind me. For an athlete, you can't put a price on how important that is."

Adams recently spent a day in Los Angeles on her way back from the world indoor championships in Portland. She is the lead athlete in Visa's global Olympic promotion and filmed a commercial where she said she felt like a Hollywood star.

"I had my own trailer, make-up artist and driver...it was very cool," she said. "My driver the day before had been ferrying (Oscar-winning actor) Leonardo Di Caprio around. It was very cool."

- NZ Herald

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