Meet Valerie Vili, a New Zealand shot putter who won the gold medal in the women’s event at the Beijing Olympics setting her personal best throw of 20.56 m. It was New Zealand’s first track and field gold after almost 30 years. See photos, video and a biography of Valerie Vili here.
Valerie matched her Olympics performance recently, winning the coveted gold again in the world athletics finals in Stuttgart, Germany.
“I wasn’t happy with my first shot, it was the furthest one but not the best,” Vili said.
“I always want to be better and better.”
As a biography, Valerie Vili was born on October 6, 1984 in New Zealand so her age is 23. She came to limelight when she won the World Youth Championships in 2001, with a throw of 16m and then became the World Junior Champion, the next year. She has been shot putting since the age of 14.
Valerie attended her first Olympics in 2004, finishing a dismal eight but then she was suffering from an appendectomy. She proved her mettle in the World Championships the same year, winning the bronze. Then came the 2006 Commonwealth Games, where Vili broke the twenty year old record to win the gold. It was a truly exceptional performance by a 22-year old kid.
In 2007 Osaka World Championships, Vili also became one of the very few athletes to win the Championships at all the three leves namely youth, junior and senior. She won her first World Indoor Title in 2008.
She has been awarded the New Zealand Sports Award 2008, for her exceptional Olympic performance.
In her personal life, Vili is married to Bertrand Vili, a discus thrower from New Caledonia. She is coached by Kirsten Hellier, a Commonwealth Games javelin silver medalist.
More photos and a video of Valerie Vili are below.