Adams keen to throw herself into competition

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2014
Valerie Adams
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
VALERIE ADAMS: "I'm not sure how it's going to go but I am looking forward to throwing."

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Valerie Adams admits patience is not one of her strengths so she's naturally excited to get back into competition mode – starting with today's International Track Meet at Christ's College in Christchurch.

The two-time Olympic shot put champion is the headline act at the popular annual athletics meet, and tonight is her first competitive appearance since undergoing ankle and knee surgery last September.

"I'm not sure how it's going to go but I am looking forward to throwing," Adams said yesterday.

"It's five months post-surgery now and the first couple of months we had to be very careful about what we were doing. Rehabbing the knees and the ankles and everything else was annoying; as an athlete I'm very impatient. You want results now. But hopefully [today] goes well and we can determine whether the world indoors is a goer or not."

Adams doesn't want to put any pressure on herself so she doesn't have any tangible goals for her competitive return today. She's happy with her progress, which is ahead of schedule, and is on track for another Commonwealth Games gold medal.

Adams' Swiss coach, Jean-Pierre Egger, is also happy with his charge and intrigued about how she will perform tonight.

"After surgery you need to work from the base again and Valerie had good stability quite quickly, I thought she'd have more problems with this. It was a big surprise," Egger said.

"I know her strength potential, it will take a few months to get that explosiveness but I'm looking forward to seeing what happens [tonight]."

Adams said it would be amazing but sad to compete in Christchurch on the third anniversary on the February 22 earthquake and she spoke with some emotion about that yesterday.

"The first time we were going to come down was when the earthquake hit, but I'm grateful that I'm here and that I'm able to open up my season in Christchurch and give people something to enjoy," she said.

"Hopefully they can take their minds off houses and red zones and that sort of [stuff]. It is a difficult time for people down here but hopefully everyone who is competing can give them a good show and put smiles on their faces. It's a good meet and I'm sure it's going to be a great day."

Lining up alongside Adams in the Allcomers Shot Put event is the national men's record holder Tom Walsh. The 21-year-old builder from Canterbury's meteoric rise has raised plenty of eyebrows, including those of Egger who hosted Walsh for a short time in the Swiss Alps last year.

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"I saw Tom two years ago here for the first time, and I follow a little bit his development," Egger said.

"I was really astonished with the explosiveness and the good technique of Tom. He works very, very well, so it was not a big surprise to see him do what he did this summer after what I saw last year."

Walsh and Adams get on well and Walsh joked about knocking Adams, who was undefeated in 2013, off her perch in today's event.

"I tried to have a wee bet with her but she turned it down, she's not game," he laughed, to which Adams replied: "We'll wait till we get to the Olympics, mate."

Aside from the shot put, there will be plenty of interest in a couple of the running events, notably the women's 800m and the men's and women's 3000m, which double as New Zealand championships.

Waikato's Nikki Hamblin, silver medallist in the 800m and 1500m at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, returns from injury and goes head-to-head with Canterbury's Angie Smit, who competed at the world championships last year.

There is also plenty of talent in the 3000m races. Ben St Lawrence is the favourite in the men's event; the Australian was seventh in both the 5000m and 10,000m at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and is gearing up for another tilt in Glasgow.

Compatriot Eloise Wellings, fourth in the 5000m at the past two Commonwealth Games, lines up in the women's race alongside Hamblin – who competes less than an hour after the 800m – and other Kiwis including Holly van Dalen (twin sister of London Olympian Lucy) and rising local runner Rosa Flanagan.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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