Val trains Paralympics hopeful

JAY BOREHAM
Last updated 16:47 11/02/2013
Valerie Adams

GOLDEN TRAINING: Olympic gold medallist Valerie Adams shows Freedom Nathan the art of shotput.

Valerie Adams
OLYMPIC PAIR: Val and Freedom.

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The boot was on the other foot when Valerie Adams tried to pass on her golden touch to a promising young disabled athlete today.

The world champion shot putter took on a coaching role to give Manurewa High School student Freedom Nathan tips on how to reach her goal of competing at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The blind year 10 student is a promising para-shotput athlete and was excited to be getting advice from the woman she takes her inspiration from.

''She's my sporting hero and an amazing role model too.'' 

It was ''awesome'' to be working alongside her, Nathan said.

Adams worked with the teenager on her stance, how she held the shot put and the progression of how she throws it.

Nathan said she would put the advice into practise at the national championships this year and then hopefully when she represents New Zealand in Rio.

When the session was over Nathan had doubled the 2.5 metre Paralympic qualifying mark and thrown 5.24m.

Adams said the session gave her a massive respect for coaches who train disabled athletes.

''You have to really get Freedom to feel the throw, the starts and the push, as opposed to trying to show her which is obviously a lot easier.'' 

The training session, three days before the 50th Westpac Halberg Awards, was held to highlight what the awards are really about, Adams said.

Halberg Disability Sport Foundation chief executive Geoff Burgess said the shot-put session was a great opportunity to highlight the foundation's year-round disability sport work.

''Most people are well aware of the foundation's long-standing Westpac Halberg Awards for honouring New Zealand's sporting greats.

''However fewer people are aware that Sir Murray's [Halberg] original goal for the foundation was to bring sports people together to enhance the lives of physically disabled young people by enabling them to participate in sport.'' 

Before her coaching session Adams also donned a blindfold and joined Freedom and other students in a game of Goalball, a fast-paced sport designed for visually impaired athletes.

It involves teams of three underarm-throwing a ball with bells in it into their opponent's goal.

Adams said the game was a real eye-opener.

''We take what we have for granted and watching Freedom play in the gym was awesome.

''I was blindfolded and I think I sweated so much just by concentrating so hard on listening for the ball and so it's been a great day.''

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