June 12 - Beijing Olympic gold medalist and world women's shot put champion Valerie Vili (pictured) will lead New Zealand's initial athletics contingent for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

The 26-year-old holds the New Zealand, Oceanian and Commonwealth records for the shot put with a personal best of 21.07 metres.

She is a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, winning at Manchester in 2002 and Melbourne in 2006.

The New Zealand contingent for the Games, which are due to open on October 3, also includes Nick Willis, who finished third in the 1,500 metres at Beijing and was promoted to the silver medal after the disqualification of winner Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain for doping.

Former world women's discuss champion and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist Beatrice Faumuina was also named among 12 athletes in the initial contingent after giving assurances to the selectors that she is fully committed to the sport.

At the Olympics in Beijing, Faumuina was heavily criticised for comments made that she was satisfied with a substandard performance that saw her throw 57.18m, placing a lowly 28th.

Barry Maister, the secretary general of the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC), said: "This year Beatrice has decided to do the things she needed to do to get back on top.

"I give her credit for that because she had a lot of flak around her recent international performances.

"Leaving that aside, we know she is capable of winning us a medal.

"If she throws to her best, she'll win the gold medal, there is no doubt about that.

"All the utterances we are hearing and all the assurances we are getting is that she knows what to do.

"She's been around the scene long enough to know what to do.

"I congratulate her for taking that step and saying, 'Hey, I know I need to be better than that, I know what I can do, I know what I'm capable of doing'."

Further nominations for selection are expected at the end of next month.