Olympic great Dame Valerie Adams retires from shot put

Two-time Olympic shot put champion Dame Valerie Adams has announced her retirement after a 22-year career in the sport.

Adams, 37, says she is officially "hanging up these size 14 throwing shoes".

She broke down as she explained she had contemplated about her journey after winning bronze in the Tokyo Olympics.

"I took some time to really process this thought and to see if this was something I actually wanted to do again. My heart, mind and body simply answered the question for me, so it is time for me to call it a day."

"Representing Aotearoa for the last 22 years has given me so much joy. As my life's work, I'm humbled to show little New Zealand has what it takes to be the best in the world.

After her performance in Tokyo, she was contemplating the next event at Birmingham, but after coming back home from a being in a bubble in Japan, to MIQ in New Zealand and then straight to lockdown, it took a toll on her physically and mentally, she says.

"I thought about it long and hard... I started training and as the weeks went on and it got more and more stuck in my head about what it is that I actually want to do.

"I think I've earnt that time.

"It's pretty hard, but I know in my heart it's the right thing [to retire]. I'm very happy and at peace with today's announcement and it's taken some time to get to this stage. It's always hard, this is all I've known ... that transition is going to take some time but I'm ready for it and looking forward to the next challenge, whatever that may be."

She reiterated that her mind, heart and her body in particular thanked her for today's announcement.

"To be honest, I was probably dreading it for a long time, very anxious and nervous about today. But I feel very relieved and happy that it's finally done."

She says when she told her physiotherapist about it, she exclaimed "Good girl!".

"Because at the end of the day, it's people like her who have to keep me together to perform for everybody else and nobody sees that side of that ... none of the raw emotions, none of the pain or anything so it is a tough life, it is a tough gig, it's not for everyone but I'm glad I took the challenge on at a very young age."

She says seeing how far the sport has come from when she started to now, she is happy to be leaving it the way it is now "because it gives a better opportunity and better options for athletes who want to take that shot up".

Dame Valerie says while today marks the end of her shot put career, athletics will always be a part of her life.

"I have given my heart and soul to this sport, loved and nurtured it from a young age, watched it grow as a girl to now a woman, fully grown. It is beautiful and exciting, at times hard and unforgiving, but always honest, ever-inquiring. To all those who dare lift the shot, I'm looking at you girl.

"Do so with my blessing, as it has been given to me, I also give to you strength and courage, there is the dream good and true, take it."

She says she looks forward to spending time with her family and continuing to coach her sister, Lisa, in her journey to the next Paralympics.

"You'll also see me in the cinema one day, but you'll have to stay tuned for that one."

She says her sister, Lisa, is an incredible athlete to coach and a lot like her in stubbornness.

"Absolutely love the relationship we have, and look forward to continuing to expand in this space."

She also thanked her family, coaches, sponsors, High Performance Sport NZ, Athletics NZ, NZ Olympic committee, global athletics community, and the New Zealand public.

"I do have a few special mentions, firstly, thank you Kirsten [Hellier] you took a chance on me at 14, guided my talent in those early days and believed me."

To her physiotherapist, she said: "You are more than just a physio to me, but a friend and a confidant."

She says it was a blessing to work with Jean-Pierre Egger.

"I see you as father figure and appreciate the guidance and honesty."

She also thanked her husband, Gabriel, and her mother-in-law for allowing her to fulfil her dreams and being her "biggest drive and inspiration".

She says she has two performances that she views as the most significant of her career - one being the Beijing Olympics, where "everything went to plan", and the 2011 Daegu World Championships, where she broke a record.

Dame Valerie, who also won three gold and two silver shot put medals across five Commonwealth Games, was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2017 New Years Honours.

She was named the supreme award winner at the Halberg Awards for three consecutive years from 2007 and won the same awards' Sportswoman of the Year accolade for seven consecutive years from 2006.

In addition to her two Olympic gold medals, Adams claimed an Olympic silver in Rio in 2016 and a bronze in Tokyo last year. She was also the New Zealand team's flagbearer for the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games - a moment she said at the time meant a lot to her and her family.

"One day when my children Kimoana and Kepaleli understand what their mum does I hope they will be just as proud of this significant moment too," she said.

Following her showing in Tokyo, Adams said she hoped she could show other mums what was possible.

"I hope to continue to inspire female athletes all around the world that if you want to have a kid and you want to come back and be at the top of the world, you can, you can absolutely do that and today's a testament to that."