Adams to carry flag at opening ceremony

NATHAN BURDON IN GLASGOW
Last updated 08:30 23/07/2014
ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff.co.nz

Val Adams talks about what it means to her to carry the New Zealand flag at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

Val Adams
LAWRENCE SMITH/ Fairfax NZ
INSPIRATIONAL: Val Adams will lead the New Zealand team into the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.
Glasgow
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Glasgow in Scotland prepares itself to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

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In the end there really was no other choice - double Olympic and Commonwealth Games shot put champion Val Adams will lead the New Zealand team into the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow tomorrow night.

Adams joked she'd be doing an extra workout to make sure she could carry the flag nice and high as she marched the team into Celtic Park Stadium.

''I'm feeling really, really proud to be a Kiwi right now. I'm really honoured and I'm looking forward to tomorrow night,'' Adams said.

''It's quite important for me to be part of this team, it's something I can tick off my bucket list and it's great to be here amongst such amazing athletes.''

Adams, who aims to defend her Games title and break the championship record in Glasgow,  was approached a couple of months ago by New Zealand Olympic Committee chef de mission Rob Waddell, but had only been able to tell a close circle of family and friends, with some changing their flights so they would be at the Games for the opening ceremony.

Adams will be one of few of the 22-strong athletics squad marching in Glasgow.

Most of the squad are at a training camp in Cardiff, and US-based hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe, for one, said she would miss the opening ceremony despite the athletics programme not starting till Sunday.

''I'll be arriving in the athletes' village on the 24th - the day after the opening ceremony. I decided to opt out of attending because I did not want any distractions ahead of my competition and I was also mindful that I compete early in the track and field programme so I have plenty of time to enjoy the other sports and attend the closing ceremony after I've competed,'' Ratcliffe wrote on her blog.

Middle distance running brothers Zane and Jake Robertson aren't even in the country yet, with Zane set to arrive from his St Moritz training base on Saturday and Jake from Kenya the day after the opening ceremony.

Adams will return to her training base in Cardiff after the ceremony to continue the buildup for her shot put event.

''Every competition you strive to be the best you can be. For me it's been four years I've been unbeaten and the pressure is still there and the motivation is still there to do well. I still go to training and I still love what I do.

"I know I'm the hunted and people are trying to hunt me down and beat me and that will always be there, one day [the streak] will come to an end.''

Waddell said Adams' record as an athlete, her ability to relate to people, especially children, and her ''infectious laugh'' had made her the ideal option.

''Valerie is arguably New Zealand's greatest sportsperson and a true inspiration, especially to young people. Not only is she an outstanding athlete, she's also an outstanding New Zealander,'' Waddell said.

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''She's the reigning Olympic, Commonwealth and world champion and remains unbeaten over 53 consecutive competitions.''

Adams was presented with a whale tooth pendant, which she will wear at the opening ceremony and draped in the New Zealand flag at today's ceremony.

She is the second consecutive woman selected as New Zealand flag bearer, following in the footsteps of Irene van Dyk in Delhi four years ago.

Rower Stephanie Foster (1986) and Sarah Ulmer (2002) have also been selected for the honour.

- Stuff

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