Finally, Valerie Adams has her London 2012 Olympic shot put gold medal around her neck.
Few medal ceremonies in Olympic history could match the expectation ahead this evening's presentation at The Cloud in Auckland, which was held in front of 2500 people.
Adams was awarded the gold medal after Belaursian shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk was stripped of the medal for twice testing positive for steroids.
She was joined by New Zealand's other 2012 Olympic medallists, including champions Mahe Drysdale, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray.
The Southern Cross Campus choir from Adams' former high school performed a rousing national anthem and Adams' 11-year-old niece, Sharne Pupuke-Robati presented her with flowers.
"This is more than I expected," Adams said, while struggling to hold back tears.
"I do this for you and I do this for our country," she said.
Before the medal presentation Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae paid tribute to Adams' achievement in London.
"It symbolises the outstanding individual achievement and captures the notion of athletic chivalry," he said.
"Tonight Valerie Adams, we've reconvened the audience of three and a half million New Zealanders."
Mateparae also had a cheeky dig at the way the country's sixth gold medal had come about calling Adams' effort as "the best clean shot that night".
Fans, many adorned in black and waving flags, filled The Cloud ahead of the ceremony.
While the ceremony was open to the public, the New Zealand Olympic Committee elected to give away the 2000 tickets through radio competitions.
Thomas Jacobson, 10, was near the front of the queue with his mum Heather.
The pair travelled from Waipu in Northland to see Adams get gold and Thomas said it would make up for the heartache of seeing his hero lose in London.
"She really deserves this," he said. "She's done such an amazing thing."
Aucklander Amy Crawford, 8, did her recent school project on the shot put champ and said she was "really excited" about seeing the gold medal finally go round Adams' neck.
The ceremony was followed by fireworks displays at the Auckland and Wellington waterfronts.
ADAMS MOBBED ON RETURN TO AUCKLAND
Adams was mobbed by family and well-wishers as she appeared through the arrival gate at Auckland International Airport, arms aloft, early this morning after a long flight from Switzerland.
"I'm so happy to be home, I've been waiting for this for so long, not just for the medal but to see my family as well," Adams said.
"I'm really looking forward to tonight.
"It was a long flight, but a good one. I felt a bit out of whack earlier but it's one of those days where adrenaline is stronger than the need for sleep."
Acknowledging what is one of the rarest experiences in sport, Adams has been able to spend the last week safe in the knowledge of what awaits around the corner.
"It's been weird, but the wait will be worth it I'm sure," she said.
"I'm just looking forward to getting that medal around my neck."
Adams had another reason to smile thanks to a bit of special mid-air treatment.
Air New Zealand surprised the athlete with some special bedding including a "Welcome Home Valerie" pillow and a gold medal duvet.
It also provided a napkin which stated "enjoy your medal" rather than "enjoy your meal".
Spokeswoman Brigitte Ransom said they wanted to make her homecoming "a little more special".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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