Wishing the Tonga Royal Family a Happy New Year this morning at the Royal Palace in Nuku'alofa, was Valerie Adams, the Olympic gold medalist shot putter, whose outstanding athletics career is inspirational for young Tongans.
About 200 guests, including Tonga's new Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, Members of Parliament, nobles, diplomats and church leaders, gathered at the Royal Palace this morning to wish the King a Happy New Year. They were received by HM King Tupou VI, Queen Nanasipau'u, Princess Angelika and Princess 'Ofeina in the Palace, before joining a New Year's breakfast held in a marquee in the Palace grounds.
Valerie said she was visiting Tonga for a couple of days over the New Year. Her mother Lilika Ngauamo came from the village of Houma on Tongatapu.
In 2014 Valerie (30) received the prestigious IAAF Athlete of the Year award. In March 2014 she 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 since 2010. She is a four-time World champion, three time World Indoor champion and 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.