This morning Valerie Adams managed to do what few New Zealanders have done before her. On the back of a destructive performance to win Gold in Beijing, she secured an Olympic silver medal in London.
Adams came very close to becoming the first New Zealander since Peter Snell to defend an Olympic track and field title. Yet, the first response that spewed forth from certain parts of the media was bordering on the shameful.
Literally seconds after Nadzeya Ostapchuk had been confirmed as the new Olympic champion, a certain leading news website ran with the headline “Adams loses Shot Put Final”. It was a disgraceful comment, but don’t bother looking for it now. It’s been amended. Oh, for a screen shot.
Anybody that had been following Ostapchuk’s recent form (even from this side of the world) would understand that she was probably the favourite going into that final. She had been throwing well over 21 metres all season, with a Personal Best half a metre further than Valerie Adams. In fact, the four top throws this year belong to the Belarusian, and just because Adams wasn’t competing at the time doesn’t mean they don’t count.
However, if you read all the reports from the New Zealand media, all Adams had to do was turn up, glare at Ostapchuk in scary fashion, and the gold was hers. What bollocks.
It is fair to say that Adams will be disappointed in her performance this morning. She threw well under her best, and didn’t look anywhere as dominant as she did four years ago. But Ostapchuk has improved out of sight in recent years, and looked much better throughout the tournament.
Even if Valerie Adams had thrown just over her Personal Best this morning, she would not have won the gold medal. Yet, as we all know (because Mark Watson has told us 1,337 times over the past few days) only 10% of athletes obtain Personal Bests at the Olympics.
Valerie Adams has been painted – somewhat unfairly at times – as a prickly character. She can be fairly basic in her delivery at times, and has been known to cause a spade a spade. In saying that, her interview after the event was pretty classy, despite showing obvious signs of disappointment.
But she has been done no favours by some quarters of the New Zealand media, who believed that she only had to turn up to win. And that’s not fair to either her or Nadzeya Ostapchuk.