Valerie Adams (© Getty Images)
Dame Valerie Adams has announced her retirement, following a legendary shot put career that includes two Olympic gold medals and eight world title wins.
The New Zealand star shared her decision to hang up her throwing shoes at a press conference on Tuesday (1), as she brought her hugely successful career that spanned more than two decades to a close.
"Today, I am here to share with you all that I'm officially hanging up these size 14 throwing shoes,” said Adams.
"After winning my bronze medal in Tokyo, I contemplated whether to embark on another campaign. I took some time to really process this thought and to see if it was something I actually wanted to do again. My heart, mind and body simply answered the question for me, so it is time for me to call it a day."
Adams’ incredible journey in the sport started when she was aged 14 and she picked up a shot for the first time. She was selected for the 1999 World U18 Championships in Bydgoszcz, where she placed 10th, despite still not having turned 15. Two years later, Adams gained the first of her global gold medals by winning at the U18 event in Debrecen and she went on to claim the world U20 title in Kingston the following year. That same month she travelled to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and secured silver at the age of 17.
Her first senior world medal came in Helsinki three years later and that silver would prove to be just the start. Over the next 11 years, Adams won a series of world titles outdoors – in Osaka in 2007, Berlin in 2009, Daegu in 2011 and Moscow in 2013 – to become the first woman to claim four consecutive gold medals in any individual event at the World Championships, and matched that gold medal tally with four world indoor titles, won in Valencia in 2008, Doha in 2010, Istanbul in 2012 and Sopot in 2014.
Then there is her incredible Olympic success, with Adams having won two consecutive titles in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012, as well as silver in Rio in 2016 and bronze in Tokyo in 2021. With her Tokyo bronze, Adams became the first woman to win four Olympic medals in a single field event.
In between her last two Olympic medal wins, Adams became a mother and welcomed her daughter Kimoana in 2017 and her son Kepaleli in 2019. She now looks forward to spending more time with her family and continuing to coach her sister Lisa, who claimed Paralympic shot put gold in Tokyo, as well as working in her community and with her sponsors.
"While today marks the end of my shot put career, athletics will always be a part of my life,” said Adams, who threw Oceanian records of 21.24m outdoors and 20.98m indoors and also has three Commonwealth titles and six Diamond Trophy wins to her name.
“I have given my heart and soul to the sport. Loved and nurtured it from a young age, watched it grow as a girl to now as a woman fully grown. It is beautiful and exciting, at times hard and unforgiving, but always honest, ever enquiring.
"To all those who dare lift the shot, I'm looking at you, girl. Do so with my blessing as it has been given to me, I give also to you. Strength and courage. There is the dream, good and true. Take it."
Away from the throwing circle, in which Adams achieved a 56-competition win streak between 2010 and 2014, the 37-year-old joined France’s 2012 Olympic pole vault champion Renaud Lavillenie in becoming the first active athletes to join the World Athletics Council as full voting members in 2019.
Adams, deputy chairperson of the Athletes' Commission, was also named World Athlete of the Year in 2014.