“I can look back with pride on the past few months in which, thanks to the help of my fantastic support team, I’ve managed to add a third World Indoor title, a 14th national title (13 in the shot and one in the hammer) and also enjoyed a rise in profile of the shot in New Zealand.
“As regular readers of my diary column will be aware, I underwent surgery to my knee and ankle last September. Coming back from surgery is never easy and there is always an element of doubt in the back of your mind until you are back and throwing well.
“On my return to competition in Christchurch, in February, I threw 20.19m and that gave me the confidence to know I was ready to be competitive in Sopot. Having said that I knew the World Indoors would present a huge challenge. I wasn’t sure how my knee would stand up to the rigours of competition and I was also aware Christina (Schwanitz) was in good form having thrown over 20 metres.
“The World Indoors was undoubtedly a big mental test for me, but it was one I managed to pass thanks to the support of my fantastic physio, Lou Johnson, who was with me in Switzerland in preparation for World Indoors.
“The competition in Poland went very well. I threw 20.67m to win gold and take what was my third World Indoor title and seventh World title in total.
“I never tire of being crowned a World champion. It always feels amazing and every title has a unique story attached to it. I am just so proud to be a New Zealander: to live my dream and represent such an amazing country.
“Pride in my country soared to new levels when my fellow Kiwi and occasional training partner, Tom Walsh, won a bronze medal in the men’s shot. I was so proud of him. He did so well and it was a great stepping stone from which he can go on to build his senior career.
“Fatigued by the jet-lag, I underperformed at the Melbourne meet with 19.68m but managed to bounce back the following week and win my 13th New Zealand shot put title in Wellington with a much better result for me.
“It was a little strange to be almost a bit-part player at my national championship as most of the attention was thrust on the battle between Tom and Jacko (Gill) for the men’s shot title. Yet that, for me, made it a championship to remember.
“It is fantastic to have great shot competition amongst New Zealand athletes and the publicity that the sport has garnered because of it is great. I was sitting up on the bank behind the circle watching and I thought the crowd really enjoyed the show. I wish both boys the very best of luck for the rest of the season.
“People have asked me how my knee is feeling following surgery and to be honest, it is always going to be a pain in the derrière.
“I know I have to look after the old girl a bit better going forward, but the knee doesn’t restrict what I can do in training and so far I’ve completed all that is asked of me.
“Away from training and competing I always love every moment of my time in my homeland of New Zealand. My time with the family is precious to me and I’ve really enjoyed watching my niece play basketball while looking after my baby niece, Margaret.
“I’m not one who likes to attract too much attention, so although basketball is my passion and it’s a sport I love, I like to play the quiet auntie while watching and I’ll leave the vocal support to my sister.
“I’m also fortunate in my homeland to experience many cool things and I was taken around the raceway in a high speed car by Richard Moore, a young talented Kiwi V8 Super Tourer driver. It was an amazing experience and something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Also, watch out for Richard and how he performs in future.
“I always hate to leave New Zealand and my loved ones. In fact it gets harder. The family all come to the airport and we sit around and talk and I try to say a quick goodbye, but then the water works come.
“Modern technology makes it a lot easier to keep in touch, however, my five-month old niece, Margaret Patty has stolen my heart and I know she will be so much bigger when I next return home from Europe.
“However, despite my passion for my country and love for my family, I know I have to keep my focus on the challenges ahead. I’ve introduced Pilates to my training regime in an effort to help prolong my career. Bands and balls lying around the apartment are now commonplace.
“The goal for the rest of the year is to maintain my unbeaten streak (which now stands at 46 successive competitions) for as long as possible - to relish the journey that I’m undertaking and to smile and enjoy each moment.
“Until next time, Valerie.”