Dame Valerie Kasanita Adams DNZM (formerly known as Valerie Vili, born 6 October 1984) is a New Zealand shot putter. She is a four-time World champion, three time World Indoor champion, two-time Olympic and three-time Commonwealth champion. She currently holds the New Zealand, Oceanian, Commonwealth and equal World Championship records with a personal best throw of 21.24 metres.
Adams won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with a distance of 20.42 m behind US athlete Michelle Carter.
Adams is one of only nine athletes (along with Usain Bolt, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Jacques Freitag, Yelena Isinbayeva, Kirani James, Jana Pittman, Dani Samuels, and David Storl) to win world championships at the youth, junior, and senior level of an athletic event. She is the first woman to win four consecutive individual titles at the world track and field championships.
In 1998 Adams met former javelin thrower Kirsten Hellier, who would become her coach for the next 11 years.
Adams first came to prominence when winning the World Youth Championships in 2001, with a throw of 16.87 m. She followed this up in 2002 by becoming World Junior champion, throwing 17.73 m, and had her first taste of senior success winning a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games with 17.45 m.
She finished fifth at the 2003 World Championships at eighteen years of age. At her first Olympics in 2004, Adams finished seventh, while still recovering from an appendectomy she had just weeks before the competition.
The following year, Adams earned a place in the international elite, winning the bronze medal at the World Championships with a personal best throw of 19.87 m, The winner was Nadzeya Ostapchuk, but in 2013 the IAAF revealed that Ostapchuk's drug test sample from that event had been retested and found to be positive. Adams originally finished second at the World Athletics Final in 2005, but was promoted to gold after Ostapchuk's results were annulled. At the 2006 Commonwealth Games the 1.93 m-tall athlete won the gold medal, breaking the 20-year-old Commonwealth Games record of 19.00 m with a throw of 19.66 m.
In 2007, Adams went to the Osaka World Championships as a favourite to take a medal due to her being one of only three women to throw over 20 m before the championships. In qualifying, Adams led the field with a throw of 19.45 m. Adams held second place behind Nadzeya Ostapchuk throughout the final, but responded well in the last round with a mammoth throw and Commonwealth record of 20.54 m to take the gold. This made Adams one of few female athletes ever to take IAAF World Titles at youth, junior and senior level.
In 2008 Adams broke the Oceania record in winning her first World Indoor Title in Valencia (20.19 m). At the Beijing Olympics, she qualified for the final with the longest distance thrown, 19.73 meters, on her first attempt. She won the gold with a throw of 20.56 m, a personal best, beating Belarusian thrower Natallia Mikhnevich. It is the first Olympic gold medal in track and field for New Zealand since John Walker won the 1,500 meter race in 1976. She also won the New Zealand Sports Award of the year in 2008.
At the 2009 Grande Prêmio Rio in Brazil Adams won the competition with a new personal best and Oceanian area record of 20.69 m. The throw was also the world leading distance for the event. In August, Adams won at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics in Berlin with a throw of 20.44 meters, ahead of the German Nadine Kleinert and Lijiao Gong of China.
At the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships she was defeated by Nadzeya Ostapchuk by a large margin, in spite of the New Zealander setting a continental record of 20.49 m. Adams announced on 28 March 2010 that she would no longer be coached by Kirsten Hellier after an 11-year partnership. In April 2010 she announced her new coach was Didier Poppe. She was consistently beaten by Nadzeya Ostapchuk in the big meetings that season. She set a meeting record and season's best of 20.37 m at the Athletics Bridge meet in Slovakia, later saying that a change in her technique that April had begun to pay dividends. Later that season she won at the 2010 IAAF Continental Cup with a season's best mark of 20.85 m and also competed at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, where she set a Games record mark of 20.47 m to retain her title. In late 2010 Jean-Pierre Egger took over as her coach from Poppe.
Adams won the 2011 World Championships equalling the championship record 21.24 met by Natalya Lisovskaya in 1987. At the 2012 World Indoor Championships Adams won the competition with a throw of 20.54 m, a new indoors personal best.
Adams originally won the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics but was promoted to the gold medal after the initial Olympic champion, Nadzeya Ostapchuk, failed two drug tests, one a day before the event and the second on the day of the event. The Belarusian tested positive for metenolone which is classified as an anabolic agent on the list of banned substances. Adams later recounted how she initially believed Chef de Mission Dave Currie was "telling fibs" upon being told the news. She received the gold medal from the New Zealand Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, at a special ceremony in Auckland on 19 September 2012.
Adams won her fourth world championship gold at the 2013 World Championships games in Moscow in August 2013. Her fourth gold medal surpassed Astrid Kumbernuss for most all time by a female shotputter. On 27 September Adams underwent surgery on her left ankle and right knee, and in March 2014 won her third world indoor championship at Sopot in Poland with a distance of 20.67 m. Her gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where she was New Zealand's flag-bearer, was her 54th consecutive event win; the streak began in August 2010.
Adams finished second in shot put at the 2016 Summer Olympics with a distance of 20.42 m. She was beaten by Michelle Carter who had a personal best of 20.63 m with her last put of the competition.
Adams was born in Rotorua, New Zealand, to a Tongan mother (Lilika Ngauamo) and an English father (Sydney "Sid" Adams). Her father, who settled in New Zealand after service in the Royal Navy, had a total of 18 children with five women. Adams' youngest sibling is NBA basketballer Steven Adams, and two other brothers also played professional basketball in New Zealand.
Adams was married to Bertrand Vili, a discus thrower from New Caledonia, They married in 2004 and divorced in early in 2010. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Adams married Gabriel Price, a friend since childhood, at Temple View in Hamilton on 2 April 2016.
Adams' training base is at the Centre national de sport de Macolin in Switzerland.
In the 2017 New Year Honours, Adams was named a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.