Tokyo Olympics 2020: Bronze for Valerie Adams for fourth Olympic shot put medal

Author
Chris Rattue,
Publish Date
Sun, 1 Aug 2021, 3:13PM
(Photo / AP)
(Photo / AP)

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Bronze for Valerie Adams for fourth Olympic shot put medal

Author
Chris Rattue,
Publish Date
Sun, 1 Aug 2021, 3:13PM

The great Dame Valerie Adams has finished with a medal in her fourth Olympic Games, but it was also a case of a new Kiwi star is born in Tokyo.

Dame Valerie claimed the bronze medal, a fantastic achievement at the age of 36. She screamed with delight after her last throw, another podium position confirmed.

It was China's screaming Lijao Gong who set the pace and then stole the show, her massive personal best of 20.53m - her fifth throws - leaving the chasers in her wake.

But the shot put final also announced the arrival of a future Kiwi star in 22-year-old Maddison-Lee Wesche, who threw a personal best to finish sixth.

"Keep her name in mind…she's going to follow in Dame Valerie's footsteps," the Olympic commentator reckoned, predicting Wesche was a star in the making.

"A remarkable competition for her…almost sneaking over that 19 metre mark."

But it was not just about the future.

The 36-year-old Dame Valerie was under pressure from the first throws in the Olympic shot put final, with powerful initial efforts from favourite Lijao Gong of China, American Raven Saunders and Portugal's Auriol Dongmo.

Calling on her extraordinary powers 17 years after her first Olympic appearance, when she was placed seventh in Greece, Dame Valerie's second throw was good enough for the bronze position, lifting her above Dongmo.

Since her 2004 Olympic debut dame Valerie has claimed two golds and then a silver in Rio five years ago, when she was beaten by American Michelle Carter's fantastic personal best last throw.

She is the second New Zealander since Sir Mark Todd to win four medals across four different Olympics.

It was the fast-spinning, flamboyant Saunders who captured the attention in the Tokyo final, with her purple and green hair and scary, teeth-bared, face mask.

Talking to wind herself up, her second threw flew over 20 metres. Although it was a foul, it suggested she had the winning of the gold in her reach. She threw over 20m again with her final throw, but it was another foul

But she couldn't nail the super throw and it was Gong who was the eventual star, deserving top prize with the five longest throws in the competition with the best coming last.

Adams had moved into third place with a 19.49m second effort, sitting her behind Gong (19.95m) and Saunders (19.65m).

The legendary Kiwi shot put star, who in her prime notched up 95 consecutive wins over seven years, threw slightly further with her third, but not enough to overhaul Saunders.

Gong almost hit 20 metres with her third, but despite having the two best throws, the leaderboard was a compact one distance wise. Gong prevailed to win the gold with 20.58m, Saunders took silver with 19.79m, and Dame Valerie the bronze with 19.62m, her third throw.

Gong had two Olympic medals under the belt already, the first being bronze in 2012 when Nadzeya Astapchuk was disqualified for appositive drug test, which saw Adams belatedly awarded gold, and a Russian was also thrown out.