Covers sport across NZME's print, digital and radio brands.

Olympics blow for Valerie Adams as coach misses Rio

A knee injury will see Valerie Adams' coach Jean-Pierre Egger miss the Olympic Games.

Egger, Adams' mentor since November 2010, suffered a fall. The state of the 73-year-old's knee worsened during travel to the Monaco Diamond League, an event Adams won with a throw of 20.05m to beat key rivals Christina Schwanitz of Germany and American Michelle Carter.

Surgery was required on the knee. The rehabilitation and risks associated with travel curtailed his journey to Rio.

"I'm gutted JP can't be there with me and it's disappointing for him," Adams said. "But I'm in great form and really looking forward to competition day [August 12], as is JP and the rest of the team. The bus continues on the Team Adams journey."

Together the pair have been working on strategies to ensure the double Olympic champion's form continues. Adams' threw a season's best 20.19m in Budapest shortly after Monaco and remains in contention to become the first New Zealander to win gold medals at three consecutive Olympics.

Physiotherapist Lou Johnson, who has worked with Adams for 16 years, will accompany Adams to the Games. Athletics New Zealand high performance director and former throws coach Scott Goodman will also be on hand as support.

Johnson and Goodman have been working in Switzerland in recent weeks with Egger and Adams.

However, the fact Egger earned Adams' trust has been crucial to her success, especially through a spate of injuries and surgeries.

He oversaw the majority of her 56 consecutive wins at international meets which was broken in Paris last July.

"He's like a father to me. I love the man," Adams said after winning a record fourth world championship in 2013.

That was no throwaway line. Egger has welcomed Adams into his family when she's been in Switzerland to ease the homesickness she once endured. His wife Beatrice and Valerie - Egger never shortens it to Val - have become friends.

It was evident after the London Olympic Games, too, when drugs cheat Nadzeya Ostapchuk was dethroned. Adams went straight to Egger's house. When Beatrice opened the door she exclaimed "we won, we won the gold medal" between joyful sobs. Then Egger appeared and it was mutual bear-hug time.

"I'm like his long lost child," Adams said. "He looks after me as a person as much as an athlete. We can talk about anything: politics, religion, family, you name it.

"Jean-Pierre has two daughters and I say to them 'thank you for lending me your father'. Beatrice has been loving and supportive as well. It's important being able to chat to her about things from a woman's perspective. I've just about become part of their furniture."

"The relationship between Valerie and my wife is important," Egger said in 2013. "It could tend to become a competition in the past because I'd sometimes give more time to the athlete than her. When I agreed to help Valerie I was happy they got on well. If I say anything against Valerie, my wife defends her."

Egger first met Adams 14 years ago in Auckland when he was working as strength and conditioning coach for Alinghi in the America's Cup build-up.

Adams' former coach Kirsten Hellier met Egger in New Caledonia during 1993, back when she was competing in the javelin. Nine years later she rang to ask if he could observe a young girl training.

"I immediately recognised the possibilities," Egger said. "I remember saying to Kirsten, 'you have gold in your hands'."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 27 Oct 2016 13:29:29 Processing Time: 300ms