Dame Valerie Adams momentarily turned her back to the crowd for privacy, mumbled something meaningful under her breath at every attempt before going on casually to book a date with Tokyo Olympics in Hastings.

Seemingly Adams had extended her near two-metre, 120kg frame to crunch the numbers twice — 18.55m in her second attempt to make her intentions clear on the 18.50m magic mark and then followed it up with 18.65m in the following attempt almost for self-assurance on Saturday.

But then you come to expect that from someone who is a two-time Olympic gold medallist and qualifying for the fifth time.

READ MORE:
Sky and TVNZ in surprise Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics deal
Tiger Woods' Olympic golf bid could get complicated
Olympics: Concerns raised that eco-friendly Olympic beds won't withstand athletes' sex lives
New Zealand is set to have their biggest ever Olympic team in 2020

Advertisement

However, this time it was different and not just because she was competing in her maiden Allan and Sylvia Potts Memorial Classic in Hastings.

The 35-year-old from Pakuranga Athletics Club also had entered the competitive rotational circle for the first time in 20 months at the 21st edition of the opening meeting of the Athletics New Zealand calendar since giving birth to her second child, son Kepaleli, who had arrived prematurely via Caesarean section on March 23 last year.

"When you come into a competition you've always got to have a goal in mind and today that was, first of all, enjoy being out here to have the passion and drive to qualify for the world indoor championship [18.30m] in March and, secondly, to qualify for the Olympic Games," she said of the worlds to be staged at the newly built Cube gymnasium in Nanjing, China, from March 13-15, and the Olympics in Japan from July 24 to August 9.

Enjoy Adams certainly did despite the temperature flirting with the 30C mark in the enclosure at the HB Regional Sports Park, punctuated by a humidity of almost 80 per cent. She performed a lively jig to the fans after her fifth and final throw of 18.47m.

At the post-throw media scrum, the four-time world outdoor champion shook hands with individuals interviewing her before jovially telling an unsuspecting TV cameraman: "Man, that [handshake] was like a wet fish. Don't ever hand me that sort of thing again."

A grinning Adams then playfully warned all the males fussing around her not to go down the path of what childbirth felt like unless they themselves could relate to a painful sensation in a certain part of their anatomy.

"So where are you going next?" was the common question to many athletes following the Potts Classic.

"Oh I'm going home," was the nonchalant Adams' stock response before she mapped her path to the Porritt Classic and the Waitakere International next month before the nationals in Christchurch in March.

Advertisement

It's early days but Adams and fellow world-class shot putter Tom Walsh should make excellent chefs de mission when their time comes.

That scream doesn't need any interpretation as Dame Valerie Adams nails her third attempt of 18.65m to endorse an earlier 18.55m throw to book a flight to Tokyo Olympics. Photo / Ian Taylor
That scream doesn't need any interpretation as Dame Valerie Adams nails her third attempt of 18.65m to endorse an earlier 18.55m throw to book a flight to Tokyo Olympics. Photo / Ian Taylor

She put the Potts Classic performance as a "great opener" as Australian coach Scott Goodman watched her from within throwing distance.

"It's been 20 months since I've last competed so happy days," she said.

Like other pedigree athletes, Adams sang the praises of the venue here as an amazing place to train and compete.

"I'll definitely come back here and I just love the sports complex now but I enjoyed today's competition and I'm happy to be back," she said of the EIT Institute of Sport and Health Facility, adjacent to the track-and-field complex.

Adams revealed motherhood, with all the priceless support network around her, had turned her training sessions into more meaningful returns.

"Because I'm able to switch off and on so, as soon as I finish training, I put on my mum hat so it's brought a great balance to my life.

"I enjoy being a mum and I love my babies so much and regardless of what happens out here they [the children] don't care what I do or who I am because all they know is I provide food, happiness, some entertainment and lots of cuddles and kisses and that's all that matters to them."

So what does Adams chant to herself before her throws?

"That's for you to find out, so bye," she said, before slapping me on the back and walking away with a grin.

The oriental inscription on the inside of her right arm will have to wait to be deciphered until the next interview ... or is that also something else for the scribes to unravel.

The oriental inscription on the inside right arm of Dame Valerie Adams, celebrating on the podium in Hastings, will have to be deciphered next time. Photo / Ian Cooper
The oriental inscription on the inside right arm of Dame Valerie Adams, celebrating on the podium in Hastings, will have to be deciphered next time. Photo / Ian Cooper

For the record, Maddison Lee Wesche (Waitakere Athletic Club) was runner-up to Adams, with a throw of 17.51m, and Victoria Owers came third on 15.71m.

Olympic medallist Walsh predictably retained the classic crown with a throw of 21.10m, outside the record 21.38m he had set last year.

"It was scratchy to start with in the first two rounds ... so not quite how I wanted to start but two throws out there were reasonably good in terms of speed and I'm moving well," said the 27-year-old from Christchurch who already has qualified for Tokyo with Jacko Gill, who didn't compete in Hastings this year.

"It was tough first up out of the gate but I just want to be better every year," he said, emphasising it was always good to chuck close to 22m.

Walsh reiterated massaging and tweaking to Tokyo was the mantra for someone who isn't getting any younger. Meditation becomes the catalyst in keeping the heart rate down to focus on not the outcome but the processes that helped achieve that.

Ryan Ballantyne (Christchurch Old Boys' United) was second with a throw of 19.33m and Jan Jeuschede, of Germany, was third with 18.56m. Nick Palmer, of Hastings, was fourth on 17.70m.

With Rio Olympic bronze medallist Eliza McCartney watching, Olivia McTaggart cleared 4.30m to win the women's pole vault title from fellow Aucklander Imogen Ayris (4.20m) and Isabella Murrell (3.40m).

Giving a big tick to Hastings conditions, McTaggart said she often started here with a PB but was content with a slow start while many meetings beckoned, including an ideal rehearsal here before jetting off to Perth next weekend.

The 20-year-old said Ayris was keeping her on her toes and, hopefully, McCartney would come right quickly to help raise the bar.

"I actually didn't come here with a figure in mind because I don't like to build my goals on heights," she said, revealing expectations gave way to simply doing her best.

Ayris said she hadn't put up anything solid in her warm up but was satisfied with her jump with bigger poles.

In an all-North Harbour Bays affair, Nick Southgate (5.40m) beat James Steyn (5.20m) and Etienne Du Preez (4.80m) in the men's equivalent.

"It was the highest jump for me in New Zealand [5.30m at Waitakere] so, I guess, it was another milestone for me," said Southgate who on Wednesday had ratified the NZ indoor record (5.21m) here in a pre-classic competition. He missed out on two NZ records in a week but came up shy in trying to eclipse the 5.51m outdoor mark.

Like Ayris, he will compete in Canberra on February 12.

Gold Coast Commonwealth Games gold medallist Julia Ratcliffe (Hamilton City Hawks) clinched the women's hammer throw in her final attempt of 69.94m.

2018 Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Connor Bell's 63.25m, a PB with a 2kg implement, won the senior men's discus title.

"I'm absolutely delighted because it's a huge PB so it's just about keeping my processes simple in competitions," said the 18-year-old AUT-bound tertiary student.

Olivia McTaggart, of Auckland, makes it look easy as she scales the bar to claim the women's pole vault crown in Hastings. Photo / Ian Cooper
Olivia McTaggart, of Auckland, makes it look easy as she scales the bar to claim the women's pole vault crown in Hastings. Photo / Ian Cooper