Dame Valerie Adams (New Zealand)
Dame Valerie Adams DNZM is a New Zealand shot putter. She is a four-time World champion, four-time World Indoor champion, two-time Olympic, three-time Commonwealth Games champion and twice IAAF Continental Cup winner. She has a personal best throw of 21.24 metres outdoors and 20.54 m indoors. These marks are Oceanian, Commonwealth and New Zealand national records. She also holds the Oceanian junior record (18.93 m) and the Oceanian youth record (17.54 m), as well as the World Championships record, World Indoor Championships record and Commonwealth Games record.
Adams first represented New Zealand at the 1999 IAAF World Youth Championships in Bydgozcz, Poland at age 15. Adams would become the third woman to win world championships at the youth, junior, and senior level of an athletics event. She was the first woman to win four consecutive individual titles at the IAAF World Championships. While still a teenager, Adams was a finalist at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics and the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Adams would go on to dominate the Shot Put event for the following decade, going unbeaten in competitions from her first World Cup victory in Athens until September 2014.
In 2017, Adams was appointment as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her contribution to sport and athletics.
Over the later part of Adams career, she has been a representative on the World Athletics Athletes Commission, since 2015 and has been instrumental in setting up and being the inaugural chair of both Athletics New Zealand and Oceania Athletics’ Athletes Commission.
- World Champion 2013, 2011, 2009, 2007
- World Indoor Champion 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008
- Olympic Champion 2008, 2012
- World U20 Champion 2002
- World U18 Champion 2001
- Commonwealth Champion 2014, 2010, 2006
- New Zealand Champion 15 times
- Oceania Senior, U20, U18 Shot Record Holder
- Laureus World Sports Award for Sportswoman of the Year: 2015 nominee
- IAAF World Athlete of the Year: 2014
- Track & Field News Athlete of the Year: 2012, 2013
- New Zealand Order of Merit: 2017
- New Zealand’s Sportswoman of the Year: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
- Halberg Awards – Supreme Award: 2007, 2008, 2009
- Lonsdale Cup of the New Zealand Olympic Committee: 2006, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014
- World Athletics Athletes Commissions Member
- World Athletics Council Member 2019 to current
- Oceania Athletics Council Member 2019 to current
- Oceania Athletics Athletes Commission Chairperson 2018 to current
- Athletics New Zealand Athletes Commission Chairperson 2019 to current
Semisi Fonua (Tonga)
Semisi Fonua has been a long-time member of the Tongan Athletics Community. Semisi first started in Athletics as the father of keen athletes, becoming more involved as his children became more involved with the sport. He then went on to coach several National Tongan Athletes, a role that he has maintained over a long period of time.
In 2006 Semisi was elected as President of the Tongan Athletics Association, a position that he has remained in until today. At the time Semisi took on the role of President of Tonga Athletics Association, the Federation was experiencing difficult governance issues. As President, Semisi was instrumental in raising the profile of the Federation and in ensuring that the Federation is now a stable and well-governed organisation.
While Semisi has held the Presidency position over a significant period of time, he has been able to surround himself with good, loyal, hard-working people. Semisi’s leadership and reliability has empowered the Tongan Athletic Association and given confidence to people within the Tonga community and the greater Oceania region.
Since 2007, Semisi has represented the Federation at the IAAF (World Athletics) and Oceania Athletics Association Congresses. He is respected amongst his Pacific Island colleagues and is regarded as the ‘father’ of Tongan Athletics.
In his personal life, Semisi is a highly respected Reverend with the Free Church of Tonga, a role he has held for more than 35 years. And although his busy schedule has meant that he was often traveling, he has always maintained a strong presence in the Federation.
In 2019, Semisi contributed to the Federation receiving significant funding to allow their athletes to travel to China to train for the Oceania Athletics Area Championships and the Pacific Games in Samoa. This was the strongest team that Tonga Athletics Association had fielded for many years and this was a product of a very successful Federation administration.
At the Oceania Area Association level, Semisi has offered wise counsel to his colleagues and has always been a voice of reason. He is recognised and admired amongst his colleagues for his calm but thoughtful ways.
Sally Pearson (Australia)
Sally Pearson rose to prominence in 2001, when at the age of only 14, she won the Australian Youth 100m and 90m hurdles titles. After injury setbacks during 2002 she made her international debut at the 2003 World Youth Championships in Sherbrooke, Canada and won gold in the 100m hurdles. The following month, still only 16 years old, she represented Australia at open level at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, France as part of the 4 × 100 m relay team. In 2004, she won a bronze in the 100m at the World Junior Championships, and just missed out on a medal in the 100m hurdles.
At the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Sally made the final of the 100m hurdles, however was out of the medals. In 2007, she continued to pursue both the 100m and the 100m hurdles, making the semi-final of each event at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan. However, in the lead up to the 2008 Olympic Games, she shifted her focus solely to the 100m hurdles. This decision paid off, with Pearson claiming the silver medal in a dramatic final, where the favourite Lolo Jones stumbled, and a photo finish was required to decide the minor medals. After the announcement of the official results a jubilant Pearson celebrated enthusiastically with bronze medal winner Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and gave an emotional trackside interview.
Pearson was in good form during the 2009 European season, winning five out of seven races and breaking the Australian and Oceanian record in the 100 m hurdles at the Hercules Meeting in July, with a time of 12.50 seconds; 0.03 faster than the area record she had set on the same track a year earlier. However, she was hampered by back spasms in the lead up to the World Championships in Berlin and finished fifth in the 100m hurdles final.
Since announcing her retirement in 2019, Sally has focused on helping the next generation of athletes. She has taken up coaching, and has a squad based on the Gold Coast, which includes athletes from Australia, Fiji. She has also started work with Athletics Australia, as a Technical Advisor, to mentor Australia’s best talent. Sally is now a member of the Oceania Athletics Association Athletes’ Commission and has recently joined the OAA Competition Commission.
Oceania Athletes’ Commission Member
Athletics Australia Board Member – Athletes’ Representative
Australian Champion – 16 times
2008/2009 – Athletics Australia Female Athlete of the Year
2011 – IAAF World Champion
2012 – World Indoor Champion
2012 – Olympic Champion
2011 – Female Athlete of the Year
2011 – Key to the City of Gold Coast
2012 – Athletics Australia Female Athlete of the Year
2012 – Sport Australia Hall of Fame the Don Award
2012 – Queensland Sports Star of the Year
2013 – National Finalist Young Australian of the Year
2014 – Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to sport as a gold medallist at the London
2014 – Women’s Health Sports Woman
2017 – IAAF World Champion
2017 – Australian Institute of Sport Female Athlete of the Year
2017 – Athletics Australia Female Athlete of the Year
2018 – Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games final Queens Baton Relay runner