Valerie Adams finally receives her gold medal
By Michelle Pickles with 3 News online staff
Olympic champion Valerie Adams has finally received her hard-earned gold medal at a ceremony in Auckland this evening.
The medal was presented by the Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae at The Cloud on Queens Wharf, before the audience stood to sing the New Zealand National Anthem.
The anthem was led by the Southern Cross Campus Choir from Adams' former high school.
Adams shed a tear as she waved to her cheering fans, then threw her bouquet into the crowd as a gesture of appreciation.
"I do this for you and I do this for our country," she says.
Adams’ fellow Olympic medallists joined her on stage, and joined in the celebrations.
It was a full house at The Cloud, with more than 2000 people inside for the ceremony. VIPs including fellow Olympians, Members of the Tongan royal family, Auckland Mayor Len Brown, and MPs Louisa Wall and Nikki Kaye were there, as were more members of the public who couldn’t fit inside but who stayed to watch on big screens outside.
Following the ceremony the crowd moved onto the end of Queens Wharf to watch a celebratory fireworks display. A fireworks display was also organised for Wellington.
This is the first time an Olympic gold medal has been presented to an athlete on New Zealand soil.
See the photos and watch the video of the medal ceremony and the fireworks display.
Adams returned home this morning, and after eight months away it was her family the champion was hanging out to hug.
“It’s like Christmas Day," says Adams. "Seriously, it’s like opening up a gift and seeing them - they were the first people I needed to see.
“It’s just priceless to have these kids here… I don't have long at home, so I’m going to appreciate every day I have with them.”
To them she's just Aunty Val and they wanted her all to themselves.
“I didn't want them to come and see her, because I wanted to just see her,” her niece Sharn says.
And Adams’ sister Paddy was equally pleased to see the star.
“It has been pretty crazy but the day is finally here for me and all the family here to welcome Val back home.”
But there was one special person missing – Adams' mother, who passed away 12 years ago last Sunday.
“She’s the one person that would miss tonight the most and that I will miss the most. [For] two reasons, because it’s the Olympic Games and she’s not here and it’s in New Zealand and it just would have been perfect. But that’s the way it is. I know she's watching, and is very, very proud from anther place.”
Adams' Tongan genes come from her mother, and the community was there in force to welcome home their champion.
“This is just a huge moment for both New Zealand and Tonga,” Tongan fan Virginia Tuita says. “And I’m sure everybody back in the islands is so proud of her.”
There was even a Belarussian there to offer an apology - by sheer chance - she'd come to meet her Kiwi husband.
“I know she did the best she could and I know that Belarus was wrong and because it’s my homeland, I feel sorry for that.”
Nadzeya Ostapchuk robbed Adams of her golden moment in London, but the double Olympic champion was looking forward to making up for that tonight.