Dame Valerie Adams, one of New Zealand's greatest ever athletes, joined forces with AIA Vitality in August 2019.
Back in 2000, a young Valerie Adams was watching the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games next to her mother who had been unwell for some time. As the then 15-year-old Valerie watched the athletes enter Sydney Olympic Stadium, she imagined how one day she would represent New Zealand; dressed in black and standing on the iconic podium.
Sadly, Valerie's mum passed away in her arms the next morning, and it was at that moment that Valerie Adams resolved to make her mother proud, dedicating herself to her training and becoming a world-class athlete. Just four years later that vision became a reality and at only 18 years old, Valerie Adams was walking in the opening ceremony of the Athens Olympic Games. Her incredible journey had begun.
There are many moments that might stand out in Dame Valerie's storied career; two Olympic gold medals, three Commonwealth golds, and multiple records have made one of the most defining careers in athletics history. After all of that, at just 32 years old, Valerie became the youngest New Zealander ever to be bestowed a Damehood. She's come a long way from the 16-year-old who rose to fame after winning her first championship in 2001.
Today the wife, mother, Dame and multi-Olympic champion knows that her mother is looking down on her, proud not just of what she's achieved, but of the person she has become. "All of the gold medals, all of the championships I've won, I'd give it all up for my kids," says Dame Valerie. "For me, being healthy is not about winning, it's about having the energy I need to live the life I want, with the people I love."
Following her investiture as Dame, Valerie hopes it opens many doors to inspire New Zealand's Pacific people and let them know it is possible to do what they've got to do and get rewarded for it. "I don't think you can stop giving or helping at a community, school or church level. That's my duty now. I'm helping a discus thrower and another couple of girls who are trying to lose weight. The best thing you can give someone is your time, and now I'm making sure my schedule is allowing for that."
It's this sense of compassion and giving that makes Dame Valerie an ideal ambassador for AIA Vitality. Her work in the community to help other people find their version of healthy is perfectly aligned with AIA's vision of helping Kiwis take small steps to healthier, longer, better lives.