The Team Val Adams bus rolled into Rio and delivered a silver medal in the shot put for Valerie Adams, denying her the opportunity of becoming the first woman to win three consecutive athletics Olympic gold medals.
Adams led the first round with 19.79m and again after the second round with 20.42m but was pipped at the post in the sixth and final attempt by America’s Michelle Carter who released a personal best and national record of 20.63m. Adams made a valiant final attempt of 20.39m but had to settle for the silver.
Hungary’s Anita Márton was third with a national record of 19.87m, Lijiao Gong was fourth with 19.39m and Raven Saunders of USA fifth in a personal best 19.35m.
Adams was gracious in defeat and congratulatory of Carter’s victory.
“It would have been nice to win, that was the whole goal to come out here and win but that’s sport and I wanted to come out here and leave my heart out here and I fought to the very end.
“After what I’ve come through, where I was last year to now I’ve done a lot of work to be here today. I’m very blessed to be here today. It’s sport and I’ve got to take it I’ve got to celebrate it, it is my third Olympic medal and I’ve got to take it and run,” said Adams.
The Olympic champion from Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012 said it has not been easy leading up to Rio.
“It’s been a really tough two years and really intense. Some days at the very start with my elbow and shoulder surgery I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to come here today to contest this. It was a very long road and there some very tough days out there but I must admit that I’ve got very good support team, especially my physio, who have stuck by me from the very start and I had to fight to be here today.
“A gold would have been great that’s always the goal and that was my goal to get the three-peat but this is the reality of sport and we’ve got to celebrate it,” said Adams.
“Michelle has been around for a little while and she is one of these athletes you can never under estimate she’s either on or off, but you can never under estimate her throughout the whole competition. She can either come out on the first throw and do a big one or the last throw and do a big one and she did that tonight. Congratulations to her she’s thrown really well,” added Adams.
Carter said that she had to dig deep to win.
“I knew I had to give it my all in the last round because Val is a great competitor and I know she has the capacity to throw far, so I was just hoping that it would stay up there, but I knew that she could come back but I was glad that I was able to walk away with the gold,” said Carter.
The 30 year old whose father Michael Carter won the silver medal in the shot put at the 1984 Olympic Games said that she remains totally focused on her performance going into an event.
“It is never my goal to just try to beat Val, my goal is to be the best that I can be because I believe we all concentrate on ourselves and do what we need to do and that’s my main thing and that’s what I was able to do today,” she added.
Nikki Hamblin was unable to sustain a finishing burst over the final 300m of her heat of the 1500m and did not qualify for the semi-finals.
Hamblin was well placed on the pole over three quarters of the race and was still in sixth place at the bell but when the pace went on she could not respond and finished 13th in the second heat in 4:11.88.
“I’m disappointed, when it came time to go I just didn’t have the legs, I’ve haven’t had my legs in my last few races. Four years of work comes down to a four minute run and I’m incredibly disappointed just that I haven’t been able to pull it together today.”
Hamblin said she just didn’t have the edge over the last lap.
“It’s probably a result of missing quite a lot of running early on in the middle of last year and the beginning of this year and missed that endurance block and although I felt really great when someone lays the hammer down I just hurt, like I hurt so bad, and it’s something new for me to deal with this year, like I’ve never had that happen to me before. I guess I wanted something better to show for the last four years as so many people have supported me and it’s just a shame what happened at the beginning of the year happened and I tried to keep believing,” said Hamblin.
Quentin Rew who has the 50km race walk later in the week, didn't get his Rio campaign away to a good start being disqualified in the 20km race walk, copping three red cards for bent knee and two loss of contact.
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent