WA's decision to reward athletes with prize money 'wonderful': Valerie Adams

In an interview with this daily, the Kiwi, who's in Bengaluru in her capacity as ambassador for the TCS World 10K on Sunday, speaks about why it was important to 'retire on her terms'.
Valerie Adams
Valerie AdamsPhoto | Special arrangement

CHENNAI: At the 2024 Games in Paris, Valerie Adams will watch the Olympics from a different vantage point. After going to each of the last five editions as a competitor, she will be a spectator. She could have easily qualified as an athlete but she had made a conscious decision to 'retire on my terms'. In an interview with this daily, the Kiwi, who's in Bengaluru in her capacity as ambassador for the TCS World 10K on Sunday, speaks about why it was important to do that. Adams, current chair of the WA's Athletes' Commission, was also intimate about Neeraj Chopra's challenge of a repeat, the body's decision to give monetary rewards for all gold medalists, and more.

Excerpts:

On the challenges of an elite athlete

I have been to five Olympics and each of them has its own unique stories and journeys. It's not a very easy feat. Some people think getting to one Olympics is fantastic and two would be amazing but to do five is exceptional. Each journey has been a challenge whether it's injuries, children, hardships with respect to relationships... I'm very lucky that my resilience and my drive and determination got me through. Paris will be weird but I'm looking forward to being a spectator (she won gold in 2008 and 2012 before picking up a silver in 2016 before finishing with a bronze in 2021).  

On when did it hit you that you won't be competing in Paris

When I retired in (2022), I did it on my terms. It was the perfect time for me; I had won a bronze in Tokyo, had two children and had set up my brand. The hardest thing to do for an athlete can sometimes be not preparing for retirement or not knowing what they are doing, post. I was very lucky that I had a vision. Acknowledging and making the announcement was hard, not going to lie.

On why it was important to retire on your terms

The last thing you want to do is have someone else tell what you can and cannot do; you don't want someone to push you out of the sport you love. But I'm a realist. I could have qualified for the next Olympics and just be a number. But I'm a performer. If I'm going to a Games, I want to win a medal. I don't want to be a number.

On WA's decision of monetary rewards for gold medallists at the Olympics
I think it's wonderful—a step in the right direction. I know there's a lot of debate around it. Each federation has got to do what they can for their athletes. WA is leading the way and hopefully others can follow.

On Neeraj Chopra
I have competed in some Championships with him. He's a phenomenal thrower and I know there's a lot of pressure on him. This question has been asked of me multiple times about what it takes to defend your title I have done it once. I think he knows what he needs to do and the team he needs around him. I'm very excited to see the men's javelin and see how it works out. I hope Chopra does amazing things. He should continue to be celebrated at the highest levels.

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