Gran backs her boy

Hooked on Olympics

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Beverley Shirley has a sur­pris­ing ad­mis­sion for some­one who has two Olympic swimmers for grand­sons – she can’t swim.

The 85-year-old at Longview Home is granny to Dean Kent, who com­peted at the Sydney, Athens and Bei­jing Olympics, and his brother, Steven, who swam in the 4x200m freestyle re­lay last week in Lon­don.

‘‘Proud’’ barely de­scribes Mrs Shirley’s re­ac­tion when Steven made the 2012 squad.

‘‘I nearly burst into tears, but I didn’t.’’

Mrs Shirley was cen­tre stage at an Olympics party held at Longview to co­in­cide with the Open­ing Cer­e­mony on July 27. Chil­dren from Hamp­ton Hill and St Fran­cis Xavier schools at­tended and gave her posters cel­e­brat­ing her grand­son.

Mrs Shirley’s Olympic con­nec­tion goes be­yond com­pet­ing – Steven’s mum, Lor­raine, works for the New Zealand Olympic Com­mit­tee in an ad­min­is­tra­tive role, and his late fa­ther, Paul, did the com­mit­tee’s ac­counts.

While no swim­mer, Mrs Shir- ley did give her fam­ily a love of sport. Dean, Steven and their broth­ers An­drew and David all played rep­re­sen­ta­tive soc­cer and cricket. Lor­raine and Paul swam com­pet­i­tively, pass­ing on a love of wa­ter to their sons – the fam­ily was heav­ily in­volved in the Ti­tahi Bay Surf Life­sav­ing Club.

‘‘That was our goal for them, to learn to swim and love it,’’ Ms Kent said.

Steven’s ad­mi­ra­tion for his old­est brother, Dean, was a huge fac­tor in his fu­ture, she said.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing Dean did Steven had to do. As Steven is the youngest he al­ways tried to keep up with the oth­ers.’’

Steven had a taste of the Olympics in 2000 when the fam­ily saw Dean com­pete in Sydney. He moved to Auck­land two years ago to en­rol full­time in the high­per­for­mance Mil­len­nium In­sti­tute, which pays for his coach­ing and ex­penses.

Dean was a bril­liant men­tor for Steven on his road to the Olympics, Ms Kent said.

Steven was nat­u­rally dis­ap­pointed with his re­lay team’s eighth rank­ing in their heats, but is set­ting his sights on the Com­mon­wealth Games in 2014 and the Rio Olympics in 2016, Ms Kent said. ‘‘He said it just makes him want to do it again.’’

Big­gest fans: Ti­tahi Bay Olympic swim­mer Steven Kent’s mum, Lor­raine Kent, and grand­mother, Beverley Shirley, were pre­sented posters and po­ems about Steven by Tawa school­child­ren as he pre­pared for his re­lay event last week.

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