Valerie Adams in for another payday at worlds

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 08/03/2014
val adams
GOLDEN GIRL: Valerie Adams was a stand out performer in 2013.

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Double Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams should get a $47,000 payday at the world indoor athletics championships in Poland tomorrow.

Event winners stand to receive $US40,000 with a $US50,000 ($NZ59,000) bonus paid to anyone breaking a world record in Sopot, a coastal resort on the Baltic Sea in northern Poland.

The women’s indoor world record, set in 1977 in the pre drug-testing era, is 22.50 metres, almost 2m further than Adams’ world title-winning throw in 2012.

The world indoor championship meet record of 20.85m was set in 2010 by the now-disgraced Belarusian athlete Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who was stripped of the London Olympic Games gold medal after returning a positive drugs test.

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) experts have anointed Adams, who won the last world indoor title in Istanbul in 2012, as the firm favourite in Sopot.

The Aucklander had made an impressive return from ankle and knee surgery to throw 20.19m at the International Track Meet held outdoors at Christ’s College in Christchurch on February 22.

Adams, a four-time world champion, will be looking to extend her winning streak to 44 finals with Germany’s Christina Schwanitz, runner-up at last year’s world championships in Moscow, again likely to be her nearest rival.

Although Schwanitz has produced the top five indoor throws in the world in 2014 with a best of 20.05m, Adams rarely throws indoors. However, the Kiwi has a much better personal best, 20.98m set in Zurich last year.

Adams, a two-time world indoor gold medallist, competes in the qualifying round tonight with the final set down for 6.50am tomorrow.

Beijing Olympic Games 1500m silver medallist Nick Willis, who ran in the heats last night, has some good indoor form behind him after winning his third Boston Games title last month in 3min 57.41sec.

Willis said in a recent radio interview that racing indoors was ‘‘a very different environment’’ because the track was only 200m long, compared with 400m for a standard Olympic Games track.

‘‘It’s much more difficult to pass runners because you’re turning all the time and they are very tight. But, at the same time, there’s no wind,’’ he told LiveSport.

Willis, who spent five days acclimatising in Portugal, wasn’t mentioned in dispatches in the event preview, but Scott Goodman, Athletics New Zealand’s high performance director and team leader in Sopot, reckoned the 30-year-old Wellingtonian ‘‘could be right in the mix’’ in Sopot.

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Willis has previously competed at one world indoor championships, in Valencia in 2008, where he was second in his heat but was disqualified in the final.

The three medal winners from the last world indoor championships in Istanbul will line up in Sopot, Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider, Turkey’s Ilham Tanui Ozbilen and Ethiopia’s Mekonnen Gebremedhin.

Djibouti’s world 800m bronze medallist Ayanleh Souleiman is also stepping up a distance and Mohamed Moustaoui (Morocco), Will Leer (USA) and Kenyans Bethwell Birgin and Silas Kiplagat could also be medal contenders.

Willis said the world indoor championships were a major event on the 2014 international athletics calendar with no Olympic Games or world championships in 2014.

He hoped his and Adams’ experience would help the three younger members of the New Zealand team, Canterbury shot putter Tom Walsh and 3000m runners Lucy van Dalen and Zane Robertson, who are at their first world indoor championships.

Walsh, who competed overnight (NZT), had the fourth lowest season-best throw (19.89m) for 2014 among the 20-strong shot put starters.

But the New Zealand record holder was in vintage form before Christmas with a personal best of 20.61m to qualify for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Van Dalen, a London Olympian, had the slowest season best (and personal best) of 8min 53.95sec in the 3000m field and Robertson, who debuted at last year’s world championships, had no recorded time for the distance.


- Stuff

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