Valerie Adams' best shot at more shot put glory
Three months since the double surgery which keeps hopes for a historic third Olympic gold medal on track, Valerie Adams and coach Jean-Pierre Egger sit down with Fairfax Media to discuss the diagnosis - and the plan for 2014.
Valerie Adams will not rush back to competitive athletics in 2014 - even if it means forgoing the defence of her world indoor shot put title.
Instead, the double Olympic champion says she must prioritise her long-term health and the biggest prize of all, a historic third Olympic gold medal at the Rio Games in 2016.
In September the Sunday Star-Times revealed Adams, who holds every major title in her sport, was going under the knife to fix cumulative issues inside her right knee and left ankle - issues which, if ignored, Adams said would probably end her career before she could even consider boarding the plane for Brazil.
Both procedures went well, with Adams and Swiss coaching guru Jean-Pierre Egger estimating a jump on the rehabilitation plan of around three to four weeks.
Over the last week Adams returned to throwing training under the close eye of Egger, who will coach her in Auckland until mid-February when they return to their more practical European base in Magglingen, Switzerland.
But while the return from surgery is ahead of schedule, Adams says 2014 must be about patience, and above all, not risk returning to competition too soon - even if that means looking past the world indoor title.
"Things are going really well from the surgery and with the rehab, I couldn't really ask for much more, to be honest," Adams told the Star-Times.
"I started throwing again this week and qualified for the Commonwealth Games with a standing throw. I'm progressing really well.
"My goal is to go the World Indoor Championships in Poland in March. But, it's not the be all and end all. I don't want to force it. I want to go there 100%, nothing else.
"I don't want to jeopardise the rest of the season."
Other key dates for Adams in her 2014 diary are the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow beginning in July, and the season-long Diamond League circuit starting in May.
Post-Olympic seasons are intended to offer athletes relative respite, a less intense time to recover and regroup from the stresses and strains of a completed Olympic campaign.
But 2013 has been far from a ‘down-year' for Adams, stretching her unbeaten run to 42 events and continuing her run of competing in every major meet every year for the last 14 years - all through injury.
Her continued claiming all possible pinnacle titles, this year having brought a record fourth world shot put title and the Diamond League crown, again make her the leading contender for the annual Halberg honours - even in a year of deep success for Kiwi sportswomen.
However, Egger says that after the last two years he wants to see Adams continue her road to rehabilitation without fear of whether she will be ready for her world indoor defence in Sopot, Poland. "There must not be this pressure, this negative pressure, and we have decided together that we will work normally, progressively and without artificial deadlines," Egger said.
"She must be able to be more aggressive with her body once in competition - so everything needs to be OK."
All going well, Adams, who will spend Christmas in Tonga before continuing her rehabilitation in Auckland, says she is confident of throwing better than ever.
"My goal is to throw more personal bests and I genuinely believe that once these injuries have been fixed and I'm fully recovered, that I can go out and deliver exactly that," she said.
Sunday Star Times