REUTERS: New Zealand's former shot put world champion Valerie Adams, hoping for a third Olympic gold medal in Tokyo this year, threw 19.65 metres in Auckland on Saturday, her longest in competition since 2016.
The 36-year-old fired four of her throws past the 19m mark at the Sir Graeme Douglas International meet, with her second throw the longest in the world since August 2019. Only five women have thrown further since the 2016 Olympics.
"I'm just really ecstatic ... I'm getting emotional," she told Fairfax media after the win.
"I haven't thrown this far in over three years and to come back into the shape I'm used to and executing the throw I'm used to is actually quite exciting.
"A lot of people doubted me when I took this road to go to my fifth Olympics, but I never doubted myself."
One of New Zealand's most decorated athletes, four-times world champion Adams won the Olympic title in 2008 and 2012 before taking silver behind American Michelle Carter at the Rio Games five years ago.
She took the 2017 season off to have her daughter Kimoana but returned to win her fifth Commonwealth Games medal on the Gold Coast in 2018.
Adams changed coaches in October last year and has been commuting to Christchurch to work with Dale Stevenson as she prepares for the delayed Tokyo Games.
"This is making sure they know I'm not out of the game, that I'm still in the thick of it and looking forward to great competition against them," Adams said of her rivals.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by William Mallard)