Enduring champion leaves her mark
Dame Valerie Adams bids farewell
Dame Valerie Adams' departure from the competitive sports scene completes an outstanding career.
Her list of credits in shot putting places her as one of the greatest of New Zealand sportspeople, and certainly in the hunt for the greatest sportswoman.
Four Olympic medals, two gold, a silver and bronze gave her a complete set, along with four world championships, four world indoor championships, three Commonwealth Games gold medals, and two silvers, and two Continental Cup successes.
They are a tribute to her longevity in a tough sport and to her competitiveness.
The winner of the World Youth Championships in 2001, followed a year later when becoming the World Junior champion, she went on to extract everything she could from her body.
In August 2011, she achieved the best throw of her career when hefting the shot 21.24m.
She became a regular on the IAAF Diamond League circuit and along the way was the IAAF World Athlete of the Year in 2014, the Track & Field News Athlete of the Year in 2012 and 2013. She was seven times New Zealand's Sportswoman of the Year, winning every year from 2006 to 2012 and the New Zealand Sportsperson of the year three times in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
There are many other achievements that will produce their own reminders for the rest of her life.
She deserves them all.
For the rest of us, there will be the memory of a woman who made the most of her talents, in an unfashionable discipline, and against the odds, not the least being the loss of her mother so early in her career.
Hers is an example to be cherished in the pantheon of New Zealand sport.
Before her ability was appreciated by the wider New Zealand sports community, it was while doing some research at the outstanding LA84 Foundation Sports Library, an institution created from the profits of the 1984 Olympic Games in that city, that Adams' impact was hit home.
Studying information relating to the source of the research, Jack Lovelock, for my book Conquerors of Time, I was approached by a personable
elderly gentleman whose rolling swagger suggested he was either the recipient of, or about to be, a hip replacement or two.
He said: "I hear you're from New Zealand."
I replied that he was correct.
He said, "You've got a real treasure out there. She's going to be a great. Do you know who I mean?"
I responded, "You wouldn't be talking about a shot putter named Valerie Adams would you?"
He said: "Too right I am, she's a beauty. I saw her at the World Juniors last year and she has got it all."
Having covered basketball for a few years while working for Wellington's Evening Post, I was able to tell him that she came from a remarkable sports family, two of whom had played basketball for New Zealand, Ralph and Warren Adams.
And that was all before Steven Adams developed into the best basketballer of them all.
As Valerie assembled those various medals and championships through the years, the old track and field fan in Los Angeles passed through my mind many times.
He was genuinely excited by her prospects and would, no doubt, have been thrilled by her achievements, just as all New Zealand sports fans have.
At a time when New Zealand has been witness to outstanding sporting success across a host of disciplines, Valerie Adams, will be remembered for the sizeable contribution she made.