To mark the imminent start of the 2014 season of the IAAF Diamond League, which gets under way in Doha on Friday 9 May, New Zealand’s shot put heroine Valerie Adams spoke to the press from her European training base in Switzerland in a media teleconference this afternoon (28).
Adams’ honours include winning gold medals in her specialist event at the past two Olympic Games, the past four IAAF World Championships and the past two IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Here are some of the highlights from the teleconference:
What are your expectations ahead of competing in Doha at the first Diamond League meeting of the year?
Valerie Adams: I do know it’s going to be hot! How I’ll deal with it, I don’t know as it’s about five degrees in Switzerland at the moment.
However, I am looking forward to going there. I have never competed in Doha outdoors and this is the first time I’ve started my (northern hemisphere) summer season so early, with the first Diamond League meeting. I’ve been training very well and I’m just looking for a good opener.
Turning the clock back to the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships, where you got a silver medal, what are your memories of Doha?
VA: I didn’t really have the chance to look around the city as it was a championship but what I did see what quite amazing. It’s a different world but that's one of the advantages of travelling the world; you get to experience different cultures, so I’m looking forward to going back there.
You’ve won the Diamond Race for the past three years; do you intend to compete at all seven meetings in which your event will be held in 2014?
VA: It is the plan if the body holds up. I really enjoy competing in the Diamond League, especially as there are no major events this year, so to speak, except for the Commonwealth Games. It’s a good opportunity to showcase what we do and compete against the best in the world.
You mention the Commonwealth Games. You’ve already won two in a row; what would it mean to win a hat-trick?
VA: The Commonwealth Games are very important to New Zealand and, for me, I enjoy them because they are a team based event. I intend to go to Glasgow and attempt to get my third title but my first Commonwealth Games in Manchester (in 2002) was pretty amazing, where I won a silver medal. Melbourne (in 2006) was obviously closer to home, in Delhi (in 2010) I broke the championship record and came away with my second title.
I’m pretty humbled that I should be able to compete at my fourth Commonwealth Games this year, so it should be good.
Post-surgery, can you talk about how your body and your form is going ahead of your first major international meeting of the summer?
VA: I’ve just finished a three-week intensive phase, a lot of base work. So far, so good. My knees are holding together pretty well. My ankles haven’t been a problem since surgery. I was talking to one of my coaches this morning and was saying I’m pretty much able to do what I love after 15 years of training. My body is still together in one piece and enabling me to do what I want to do. I can’t complain; everything that JP (coach Jean-Pierre Egger) has asked me to do in training, I’ve done it and he’s happy.
Your winning streak is now 46 meetings. Do you look at it to motivate yourself or is it peripheral to what you do?
VA: I’m going to keep the rest of them beaten down for as long as possible, that’s one of goals for the year. If I can reach 50, I’ll be pretty stoked but my goal is to keep them beaten down for as long as possible, and see how long I can keep it going.
As an athlete you have to set yourself goals and that’s one of them, but to have fun as well. It’s been quite an amazing journey and I know the longer it goes, the fall is eventually going to be harder, but that’s why every competition I’m at, I’m ready to go.
I still love what I do with a passion, and that helps with waking up and going to training. I also like the fact that I’m challenged every time I go in the circle, that gets me focused and I’m very lucky that I’m strong mentally and able to take the pressure as the years have gone on.
I think the love and passion I have for the sport is a method for continuing to be motivated. I absolutely adore what I do and the day I wake up and can’t be bothered going training is the day I hang my boots up.
You won the world junior title in 2002 at just 17. Can you give us an idea what it was like win a major title at such a young age and how it helped you develop as an athlete?
VA: I think it’s an important time in anyone’s career to compete at the World Youths and World Juniors. They are important stepping stones to competing with the big dogs at senior level, although it’s a completely different ball game.
Obviously, the pressure is a lot higher and the results and level are a lot higher, but to have that experience at junior level, the call rooms and the scheduling and things like that is just like at senior level. It’s a great experience for any athlete who wants to compete at senior level, and an elite level, to do the Juniors if they can.
I really enjoyed doing junior competitions and especially the World Juniors in Jamaica, and getting that experience, and for me it was a great experience because I went from the World Juniors straight to the Commonwealth Games two weeks later and won a silver medal there.
You mentioned enjoying different cultures and different cities, and you are coming to New York this year; what’s your favourite thing about New York?
VA: Shopping! I do love New York a lot, it’s a 24-hour city and there’s always something going on. I do love to go to Times Square and I do love to shop. I’m looking forward to that, oh and competing; competing is number one, I’d better put that out there.
I love shopping for clothes, Victoria’s Secret, cool shops like that. Chicks like me, who are just a little bit taller, well it’s really hard for me to find good clothes and I find them in the US. In New York, I can find some really cool stuff.
Your brother Steven is in the NBA playoffs with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Do you keep in touch with him and abreast of what he’s doing?
VA: It’s pretty hard to follow him closely, even though there’s the internet and the rest of it, because I’m focused on what I’m doing and he’s focused on what he’s doing. But he’s my little brother and I’m really proud of him.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF