Shot put great Dame Valerie Adams has moved a step closer to the Tokyo Olympics after being vaccinated on Saturday morning.
After being selected for the 15-strong athletics team on Friday, Dame Valerie received her first dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Auckland's Mt Wellington vaccination centre.
Adams received the vaccine early through the Governments 'reasons of national significance' criteria with several Tokyo Olympians already vaccinated through this pathway, with the Olympics just three months away.
The 36-year-old will head to a record-equalling fifth consecutive Olympics and sees getting the vaccine as a step towards that.
"I'm really good actually, quite excited," Dame Valerie says. "It's kind of like a step in the right direction. It was easy peasy to be honest, I kind of had a little sing-along.
"That's what I do with every injection. It was really easy, really painless. I didn't know she had gone in and out."
Dame Valerie plans to head to Europe in May before the Olympics to prepare and receive some much-needed international competition.
"For me the goal is to get overseas and compete against international athletes," she said. "It will put me in a better position for Tokyo. Here in New Zealand, we are about to go into winter, not having the competition has been very difficult not only for me but for a lot of athletes, especially the throwers.
"We would like to go overseas to put ourselves under a situation where the pressure is on and you have to fight for titles. It's not just turn up and receive it."
When asked if she would like to see the Tokyo Olympics make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory instead of the current rules of it being a personal choice, she said she would.
The two-time Olympic champion encourages everyone to do their part and receive the vaccine, so the Government can open the border.
"For me, it's a sense of responsibility to encourage my Pacific people to come forward and get the vaccination," Dame Valerie added. "It's quite important as it's part of keeping our family and community safe, so hopefully it just encourages people to seek more information about it and be well-informed about the process and what the vaccination means for our country.
"A lot of us have family overseas and ultimately open the borders and travel back and forth so this is a step in the right direction to do that."
Dame Valerie equals windsurfer Barbara Kendall's record of five Olympic Games for a Kiwi female athlete.