Valerie Adams made to feel at home
Scores of sports fans turned out at Palmerston North Airport to welcome Olympic gold medallist Valerie Adams on her fleeting visit to the city.
It was a sea of Tongan red as fans waited with autograph books at the ready and with banners of support.
Among them was Palmerston North Girls’ High pupil Palu Fia.
Palu, 15, was among the singing and flag-waving Palmerston North Tongan community members at the airport to meet the part-Tongan heroine as she touched down in the city.
Adams was was guest of honour at last night’s Blues Awards for sporting achievement held at Massey University.
Olympic athletes including one half of the gold-medal rowing pair Hamish Bond, heptathlete Sarah Cowley, and bronze-winning rower Storm Uru were also aboard the flight, much to the delight of fans.
But it was Adams that young shot putter Palu had eyes for.
The schoolgirl athlete threw her way to third place in Manawatu at the interschool athletics competition this year and dreamed of being New Zealand’s next Valerie Adams.
‘‘She’s amazing, she’s really an inspiration.
‘‘She’s motivated me to do my best.’’
Palu said she was thrilled when she learned that her idol was finally to get her gold medal, following a doping scandal that knocked Belarusian shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk off the pedestal.
Palu was in awe of the athlete’s grace throughout the whole affair.
But she was a long way off throwing her shot as far as Adams.
Adams will be visiting the Manawatu Toyota dealership today for a barbecue with the public in Walding St. She will be at 66 Walding St between 12.30pm and 2.30pm.