Valerie Vili smashes her own Commonwealth and national Shot record with a world-leading 21.07m (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Thessaloniki, Greece

Vili - ‘Bang bang, she shot the record down’ – IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final

With yet another massive breakthrough at the season-capping IAAF / VTB World Athletics Final, Valerie Vili could hardly have done more to impress those who will now begin to decide who is deserving of the World Athlete of the Year for 2009.

She has won all of her 13 competitions comfortably, including the World Championships, and now the World Athletics Final with the longest put since 2005, a Commonwealth and Oceania Area record of 21.07m. No, those figures don’t quite shimmer like Carmelita Jeter’s 10.67 100m or Yelena Isinbayeva’s 5.06m pole vault, but they represent a huge degree of dominance over the next best in Vili’s event.

“I knew it was a big throw,” she reflected on her second-round effort in Thessaloniki. “I wasn’t 100% convinced that it was going to go over 21, I knew it was going to late 20s, but to have it come out at 21, I’m very happy.“

Would she have been even happier with a fifth and sixth attempt given that at the World Athletics Final there were only four rounds for throwers and horizontal jumpers? “Four rounds is cool,” said the straight-taking Kiwi, “it was bang bang bang bang go.”

“The title’s awesome,“ she added, “but 21 metres has been the biggest aim this year and I’ve put a lot of focus towards that. My coach [Kirsten Hellier] and I made some small technical changes at the World Championships and it’s working.”

So exactly what were those changes ? “Ha ha,” she laughed, “that’s for me to know.”

The New Zealander’s superiority is not a new thing, she was unbeaten also in 2008 and her win streak of 25 is the longest in any current single event. She has won every title available to her: World Youth, Junior, Indoor and senior, Olympic, Commonwealth Games, World Cup and World Athletics Final. Now she is starting to win some of those titles for a second time again. Furthermore she has managed the rare feat of improving every year since she started in 1999. And now she is on the brink on achieving the sort of distances not seen regularly for a generation. If she can produce a 21.07m at this end of a long season - “I’m physically okay but I’m mentally tired”, she said - then surely 22 metres beckons.

Mark Butler for the IAAF

Career Profile -
Valerie Kasanita Adams Vili was born in Rotorua (New Zealand) on October 6,
She is 1.90 tall and weighs 110kg.

Her major championship placings:
IAAF World Championships: 2003-5th, 2005-bronze, 2007/2009-gold Olympic Games: 2004-8th, 2008-gold IAAF World Indoor Championships: 2004-dnq (10), 2008-gold IAAF World Youth Championships: 1999-10, 2001-gold IAAF World Junior Championships: 2002-gold IAAF World Cup: 2002-6th, 2006-1st IAAF World Athletics Final: 2005/2006/2007-2nd, 2008/2009-1st Commonwealth Games: 2002-silver, 2006-gold

She won the AAA (English) junior title in 1999 aged 14 and national titles for New Zealand in 2001-2007/2009 and Australia in 2004/2005/2008/2009

Annual progression at shot put:
1999    14.15
2000    15.72
2001    17.08
2002    18.40
2003    18.93
2004    19.29
2005    19.87
2006    20.20
2007    20.54
2008    20.56
2009    21.07

Her husband, Bertrand Vili, is an international discus thrower for France