Valerie Adams: Mormon Athlete
Valerie Adams, also spelled Valeria Adams, is a New Zealand shot putter and two-time Olympic gold medalist and one-time Olympic Silver medalist. She is a three-time World Indoor champion (2014 Sopot, 2012 Istanbul, 2008 Valencia), a four-time World champion (2013 Moscow, 2011 Daegu, 2009 Berlin, 2007 Osaka), and three-time Commonwealth champion (2014 Glasgow, 2010 Delhi, 2006 Melbourne). She also took silver in the 2005 Helsinki World Championships, the 2010 Doha World Indoor Championships, and the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games. She is the first woman to win four consecutive individual titles at the world track and field championships.
Adams was born in Rotorua, New Zealand, on October 6, 1984. She is of Tongan and British descent. She is one of nine athletes who have won world championships at youth, junior, and senior levels. She won the World Youth Championships in 2001 with a throw of 16.87m and the 2002 World Junior Championships with a throw of 17.73m. She won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games with a throw of 17.45m. She finished fifth at the 2003 World Championships at age eighteen. Her outdoor personal best of 21.24m came at the 2011 World Championships, and her indoor personal best is 20.54m.
Adams was recovering from an appendectomy when she competed in her first Olympics in 2004; she finished seventh. She took gold in both the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics. At the games, she won the silver medal, but after gold medalist Nadzeya Ostapchuk failed two drug tests, she was awarded the gold. She received the medal from the New Zealand Governor-General in a special ceremony in Auckland on September 19, 2012.
Adams did not defend her world title in the World Championships in Beijing in 2015 due to recovery from elbow and shoulder surgery. She announced that she would concentrate on being fit to defend her Olympic title at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. She came back from an injury requiring surgery to secure a silver medal in shot put in the 2016 Olympic Games. Just a few months prior to the competition, she married her childhood sweetheart, Gabriel Price, in the Hamilton New Zealand Temple. Of the Olympic Games, she said, "Of course I want the gold in Rio, but I would like to help inspire people more—whether it’s changing their lifestyle or working hard or winning clean and living honestly. That’s an even greater goal for me.”
Adams is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the end of December 2016, she was appointed one of New Zealand's highest honors, the Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (NZOM).