FEBRUARY 5 - NEW ZEALAND athletics officials do not think that Valerie Vili, the Olympic shot put champion, will quit them to compete for Britain at London 2012.


The 24-year-old, who in Beijing last year won New Zealand's first athletics gold medal in athletics since John Walker took the 1500 metres at Montreal in 1976, is upset over the lack of state funding she receives.


She is eligible for a British passport because her father was Scottish, as insidethegames revealed yesterday.


Vili could also qualify for French citizenship as her husband is French.


Last September Jon-Paul Tobin, formerly the world's top-ranked windsurfer, declared that he would switch from New Zealand to Britain, partly because of the extra support he would receive here in the build-up to London 2012.


But Scott Newman, the chief executive of Athletics New Zealand (ANZ), believes that Vili, who is also the world and Commonwealth champion, will keep her promise not to switch countries.



He said: "I suspect Val [has] received some very good offers after the Olympics, it would be nothing for some countries to throw a quiet million at [her] and say `come and compete for us, because you're the next gold medallists'.




"We can't do that; as a national federation, we just don't have vast sums of money."



Newman said while it was feasible for Vili to earn good money competing Britain, there was more at stake than just dollars.



He said: "You'd be shifting into a completely different environment, it's quite a decision.



"But we're very conscious of those things, and we certainly do everything possible to support Val .



"We know financially that will never be as much as [she] could potentially get from other countries, but we offer what we can."




Vili's gold from the Beijing Olympics, coupled with Nick Willis' 1500m bronze, had provided track and field in New Zealand with a real boost, Newman said.



He said: "There's no doubt high performance success creates interest in the sport...... Olympic and Commonwealth golds really resonate with the New Zealand public.



"I guess it's about maintaining that success - Val's been great, and hopefully she'll keep going for the next eight years.


"But we need someone else to continue that sustained success."