Book Review – “Valerie” (Authors: Valerie Adams with Phil Gifford

Valerie

From Goodreads:

“Olympian, World and Commonwealth champion. Valerie Adams talks openly and honestly about life in the spotlight and her tumultuous private life. Valerie Adams keeps no secrets as she tells her inspirational story of how a Tongan kid from Mangere, throwing the shot in bare feet, transformed herself into a double Olympic champion. She tells, in minute-by-minute detail, what really happened at the London Olympics. You’ll learn the full, true story of her split with coach Kirsten Hellier. She also reveals why the pain in her personal life made 2010 a nightmare for her. And why, to stay the best in the world, she’s been living on a mountaintop in Switzerland. Sir Murray Halberg says Valerie Adams may be on track to be our greatest ever athlete. Valerie — honest, joyous and sometimes heartbreaking — is the unvarnished story of a great athlete and a remarkable New Zealander.”

 

I became a fan of Valerie Adams when I saw her at the London 2012 Olympics and I was fortunate to meet her in London whilst I was there for the Anniversary Games in 2013. So, I was eager to get a copy of her book as soon as I could.

The book, which she co-authors with Phil Gifford, starts at the London 2012 Olympics where she would, after the disqualification of the original gold medal “winner”, become the Olympic champion. From there, you are guided through an honest, very honest in parts, appraisal of her life and career.

As befitting the career of a champion, there are a lot of highs ranging from the amateur ranks all the way through to her senior successes at various Commonwealth Games, Olympics and the Diamond League.

That said, she also speaks of the “lows” in her life including illness and injury, the problems of her marriage with Bertrand Vili and the end of her working relationship with her former coach, Kirsten Hellier. However, this is done without sensation or muck-raking maintaining Valerie’s ideals of integrity and candour – she’s very much “what you see is what you get”.

You also see the importance of an athlete’s bond with their coach, especially in the relationship that she has built with current coach Jean-Pierre Egger, her management team and, most tellingly, her family.

The final chapter is especially fascinating to read because you see an athlete who wants to desperately wants to give back to the sport that has made her – to her fans, her nation and to the throwing disciplines of track and field in general.

There are a couple of chapters where you feel they are repeating each other, namely the ones where she discusses Vili and Hellier, but the rest of the book more than makes up for that.

If you are a fan of Valerie’s, or of track and field in general, I have no hesitation in recommending it to you.

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