WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Double shot-put champion Valerie Adams qualified for her fifth Olympic Games on Saturday after the New Zealander spent almost two years out of competition.
The 35-year-old gave birth to a son last March and had not competed since July 2018. She only returned to competition in early 2018 after having her first child, a daughter named Kimoana, in 2017.
“These are Games I’m really excited about attending, especially going as a mum of two now,” Adams told TVNZ after qualifying for the July 24-Aug. 9 Tokyo Games with throws of 18.55 and 18.65 meters at a meeting in New Zealand.
The qualifying mark was 18.50m.
“The last time I competed was 20 months ago so it has been a long road but quite an exciting journey.”
Adams finished seventh as a teenager at Athens in 2004 and won gold at Beijing and London before being pipped in Rio by American Michelle Carter’s massive final throw.
She took time off after Rio to have her first child and made her international return at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where she clinched silver.
Adams announced her second pregnancy in October 2018, just weeks after she had opened up about problems with infertility.
She had been told if she wanted more children she would probably need to do so before the Tokyo Games.
Adams has kept a low profile since her son Kepaleli was born last year and said her biggest battle in her return to training and competition had been mental.
“I am in pretty good shape and I just wanted to come out and have a stable competition, get my nerves under control and have a good technical competition, which I did,” she added.
“There is always a lot of pressure put on myself, by myself ... and I want to go to the Olympics and be competitive.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford