It's 'Au Revoir' to Valerie Adams as the New Zealand shot putter, and medal hopeful leaves for her Olympic preparation next week. Alongside rowers Hamish Bond and Eric Murray, the 27-year-old is considered New Zealand's greatest gold medal prospect.
However, unlike when she left for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Adams leaves for this year's London Olympics with no emotional concerns. Having split from her husband, and from two coaches, Adams seems as focussed, determined and driven as ever. Her Switzerland based training with renowned athletics coach; Jean-Pierre Egger helped Adams to a successful year in 2011.
2011 was a standout year for Adams. She picked up her sixth straight "Sportswoman of the Year" at the recent Halberg awards for her unbeaten 2011 season. The year was highlighted by her third successive gold medal win at the IAAF World Championships, during which she set a new World Championship record of 21.24 metres and a new personal best.
Having shed almost four times the weight of the shot put she throws, Adams is 15kg lighter since her gold medal winning effort at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This massive weight loss is due to a focus on nutrition, cardio and long hours of intense training with Egger. "It was bloody hard work but it was definitely worth it" Adams said on TV One's Breakfast in late January.
Before she heads to the Olympics, the Kiwi is competing at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul. Having lost to Belarusian, Nadzeya Ostapchuk, at the last meet in Doha in 2010, Adams will be looking to win the title, as a psychological advantage ahead of the Olympics.
"It's crucial for the mind games and as part of the preparation for the Olympics. It's an important focus. You want to go out there showing your best shot on the day but you still want to keep some for London."
The Belarusian isn't her primary focus though.
"You've got look at everyone as an opponent and an opponent that's good enough to beat you. She's been a very significant one for a very long time. It's always been her and I. But you never know with these things," she said.
Today in Auckland, Adams was out spending time with 400 school children prior to her final pre-Olympic press conference. "This is the busiest time of my season. To be with those kids screaming their heads off, that's the thing I love to do and to be amongst those kids just made my day and made my time here in New Zealand more worth it." "I love the little brown kids; they're the funniest."
And before she leaves Adams has a quick message for Kiwis: "Get behind every Olympic athlete and support them. We do thank everybody in New Zealand for their unconditional roaring support. But remember we are human and we go out there trying to be the best athletes for everybody."