AUCKLAND, (NZ HERALD) – Married on Saturday, back in the gym on Monday: Valerie Adams knows every day counts in her build-up to Rio.
The two-time Olympic shotput champion wed Gabriel Price, her partner of two years, over the weekend, but she wasn’t about to use it as an excuse to skip a day’s training. After some frantic last minute preparations, Adams will today jet off to Switzerland, where she will be based for the remainder of her build-up to the August Games.
The long stretches away from home has at times taken its toll on Adams, who is about to head away on her sixth stint overseas.
Being in a training bubble with her Swiss coach Jean-Pierre Egger has its benefits, with fewer distractions for Adams.
But it can be a tough and lonely road. Isolated from friends and family, Adams doesn’t have the same support network to turn to overseas when she is feeling the pressure and self-doubt strikes.
This time, Adams’ new husband will join her in Switzerland for her build-up – a move she believes will put her in a much better headspace heading into Rio.
“I think it will be good for me to have someone there to talk to and just to go through the high and lows of doing what I do,” Adams told the Herald on the eve of her departure.
“Having Gabe there makes it easier for me emotionally, which I think will help me physically later.”
Over the past 18 months Adams has experienced some of the darkest moments of her career, enduring major shoulder and elbow surgery, before then being forced to go under the knife once more for a routine clear-out of her right knee. The 31-year-old returned to competition this year, and has been slowly working her way back into form, picking up a bronze medal in her first international outing at the world indoor championships in Portland last month.
Her bronze medal winning put of 19.25m is still a way off the huge 21 metre plus distances Adams is capable of, but given what she has fought her way back from, the four-time world champion is proud of her progress.
“It’s been a long road, it’s been tough mentally, it’s been tough physically and it’s been tough emotionally. To come out the other end is very satisfying,” she said.
“In a way I’m very lucky that it didn’t happen this year, it happened last year. The timing could have been the end of it for me.
“When I had the surgery on my elbow – a lot of people don’t come back from that. Basically for a lot of people that’s the end of their career. I did’t want to end on those terms.”
Adams is targeting further improvement in her build-up to Rio, but she is yet to finalise her competition schedule over the next few months. There are several Diamond League events, which will give her a taste of top competition ahead of the Games. But in Olympic year athletes tend to play a game of cat and mouse, avoiding too many potential showdowns with their main rivals in order to keep their cards close to their chest ahead of the big show.
Adams said she intends to play it by ear a little before determining her final schedule.
“I didn’t do a lot of competitions last year, so it will be good for me to get out there and get into that rhythm of competing,” said Adams.
“After every competition we’ll reassess with the team and decide where things are at. Our focus is solely on Rio and making sure we’re in the best shape we can be come Rio.”
“Can I get up to 21 metres? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what I throw in Rio, as long as I win. You don’t remember what I threw in London, you don’t remember what I threw in Beijing, but I won. That’s the same goal.”