Coach Scott Goodman has mentored countless pedigree athletes in his time but no one has captured his imagination as much as Dame Valerie Adams.
"I've never had anyone who has had that sort of training ethic," says Goodman before he and world-class shot putter Adams arrive on Friday next week for the annual Allan and Sylvia Potts Memorial Classic in Hawke's Bay the following day.
The 59-year-old Melbournite, who has been living in New Zealand for almost a decade, has been helping the two-time Olympic gold medallist mould her template since 2016.
"When she's at training, she's ferocious — awesome and she's committed, where she drives and pushes herself."
• Athletics: Record-breaking Nike shoes set to be banned from competition
• Athletics: Colgate Games offer Amelia Smith golden options in first meeting
• Athletics: Eliza McCartney opens up on 'really tough year' after revealing genetic disorder
• Athletics: Kiwis begin their season as northern hemisphere athletes wind down with world champs in Doha
It'll be Adams' first competitive outing for almost 20 months, although he says father time has taught them not to be overly ambitious.
Goodman — whose CV includes stints with the Australia Paralympics, Commonwealth Games and Olympics teams — says Adams had trained well into her pregnancy with her second child, son Kepaleli, who had arrived prematurely via Caesarean section on March 23 last year. She and husband, Gabriel Price, 34, also have 2-year-old daughter Kimoana.
"Her transition back to training has actually gone really, really well — surprisingly well — because I wasn't sure what to expect.
"She got back to that position much quicker than after her first baby, Kimoana," he says, rating the 35-year-old's silver medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018 "reasonably successful" but mindful they were markedly well in front in preparation for the impending 2020 Tokyo Olympics from July 24 to August 9 in Japan.
The high performance director of Athletics New Zealand emphasises Adams took a hiatus after the Rio Olympics in 2016 but she had continued to compete after the Gold Coast Games during the northern hemisphere summer.
"We found out around June/July in winter here that she was pregnant and she kept training hard throughout her pregnancy for four or five months," he says, revealing the training regime had undergone some modifications.
The goal in the next three meetings — starting with the HB Regional Sports park in Hastings on Saturday, January 25 — over the next six weeks is to nudge the 18.30m mark with the world indoor championship qualifying distance in mind for the event to be staged at the newly built Cube gymnasium in Nanjing, China, from March 13-15.
The cut-off date for the world indoor championship is March 2. The automatic magic mark for Tokyo is 18.50m.
"Hopefully, at Potts, we can be somewhere that is very close to that so that's what the plan is."
Goodman accepts there's a chance to accomplish that mission but a dose of realism takes over in a build up where throwing at training requires enough control to prevent peaking too early.
"The reality is she'll be coming off a very heavy training block in the last six weeks and we're going to be having a lighter week next week so that's why we're not 100 per cent sure where she'll be by the Potts."
Adams has trained here on numerous occasions of late but, according to classic organiser Richard Potts, there's no record of her competing at the event although she may have been in the field at the old track at the now defunct Nelson Park in Hastings during the mid-2000s.
"You have fantastic facilities there with the field and with training we've used the circle many times," Goodman says of the new venue. "Assuming it'll be the usual Hawke's Bay weather, it'll be wonderful."
What is pivotal for Adams, he says, is the balance she finds nowadays in her life. A vital part of his portfolio is to ensure she is happy and feeling good about coming back to add more illustrious chapters to an envious career.
"When we've finished training we try to have a little bit of a laugh and look forward to the next session."
The addition of children — who her mother-in-law, Noma, looks after when she's training — is a boon to her campaign.
"It's perfect because if she feeling flat or if something annoying her about training," he explains, "she knows she has to get in the car to get home or pick up the kids she's got to go back to being a mother and a family person so I think she's doing a wonderful job of that at the moment."
Goodman believes it's the ideal catalyst because athletics doesn't dictate the life of Adams, who made history two months ago when she became one of the first active athletes to join the World Athletics Council as a full voting member. She acknowledges that on social media, revealing she was once consumed about herself as an athlete but now selflessly devotes time to her whānau and communal obligations.
While there's no science to it, from where he's taking stock Adams comes across as someone who ticks the box of contentment, which makes training enjoyable rather than turn her into a mouse on a treadmill.
"It becomes just one part of her life rather than the only thing she's been focusing on."
His appraisal of Adams' 120kg, 1.98m stature is one of sheer amazement. He believes motherhood has added value not just to her mental growth but physical, too.
Goodman entered the international arena in 1992, mentoring a number of athletes to Paralympics medals and the Commonwealth Games.
"I've worked with a lot of athletes over a period of time and Valerie is very unique in her focus once she gets to training," he says, adding her desire to do the best she can to want to represent New Zealand is exceptional.
"Look, all athletes are driven or they wouldn't be here at training but she's got something different to anyone else I've worked with."
Goodman and Adams have spent the past five months travelling abroad competing or training in Switzerland, a base she has been frequenting for several years.
That has brought chuckling social media feed from Adams on the demands of a mother who has had to take in her stride four countries in just as many time zones during her sojourn.
The four-time world outdoor champion had coached her sister, Lisa Williams, an aspiring paralympic shot putter and discus thrower, in Dubai in November last year.
Competing in the F37 classification, the 28-year-old sister, who has cerebral palsy, smashed the world record in her first throw of 14.70m in her international debut. Five throws later, she had eclipsed her own world, Oceania and Kiwi records with a 14.80m landing.
"She [Adams] had to go to America for a commercial engagement and then come in to Switzerland but this year the plan is to do the world indoors in China, back to New Zealand for about three to four weeks and then be based in Switzerland from about 6th of April to the start of the Tokyo Olympics," says Goodman.
In between, Adams will cherry pick events to compete in Europe and the United States.
While her family won't travel to every competition, they'll be based in Switzerland with Noma and, hopefully, Gabriel.
"That sort of thing didn't happen 10 or 12 years ago whereas now, in the modern world, it's a positive thing and, I think, helps the athlete so I'm looking forward to working with Valerie in the next six months," says Goodman.
Adams will add to an already star-studded Potts classic field. Sprinters Eddie Osei-Nketia and Zoe Hobbs are confirmed starters with reigning world indoor and outdoor shot put champion Tom Walsh.
Rio Olympic bronze medallist Eliza McCartney is here with the contingent of pole vaulters, under the tutelage of Jeremy McColl, for a 10-day training camp based in Waimarama leading into the classic next week but she isn't expected to compete due to niggly injuries.
They arrived on Thursday to make the most of the EIT Institute of Sport and Health Facility adjacent to the track-and-field complex.
McCartney, who turned 23 on December 11, disclosed on social media days before her birthday she had a "genetic disorder that causes auto-immune inflammation, particularly affecting tendons". She withdrew from the world champs in September but still remains optimistic about Tokyo.