Proud parents off to Rio Olympics
James and Lynette Imrie never thought they would get to see their daughter compete on the world’s biggest sports stage.
That all changed for the Newlands couple when they learned they had won a competition run by Volkswagen to send deserving supporters of an Olympic athlete to Rio de Janeiro.
Their daughter, Olympic athlete Kayla Imrie, had nominated her parents for the prize because of their unwavering support and guidance throughout her career.
Kayla will be competing in the K4 500 women’s canoe sprint.
Lynette Imrie said the news came as a shock to both parents, who were unaware they had even been nominated for the prize.
‘‘We had no idea, and Kayla had actually forgotten about it, too,’’ she said.
‘‘ We try to be there to supply a shoulder to cry on or to tell her to keep going and be confident if needed.’’
Kayla wrote a letter to Volkswagen in January, explaining the ways her parents had selflessly supported her sports career. Lynette said once Kayla moved to Auckland they had supported her with a car and financially as much as they could, but that helping her emotionally was also a big part of it.
‘‘It’s a tough sport. Mentally they have ups and downs. We try to be there to supply a shoulder to cry on or to tell her to keep going and be confident if needed.’’
Volkswagen New Zealand general manager Tom Ruddenklau said the Imries were a prime example of how family support had had a positive impact on their daughter’s career and they deserved to be at the Olympic Games in person.
Kayla’s interest in water sports started with surf lifesaving at the Paekakariki Surf Club, which led to her joining the Mana Kayak Racing Club in Porirua. She eventually moved to Auckland to continue her university studies and advance her training.
Lynette said it was hard to put into words the sense of pride they were feeling.
‘‘How do you describe it? When you were young and watched the Olympics you never dreamed one of your own would do it,’’ she said.
– Lynette Imrie From left: Volkswagen New Zealand general manager Tom Ruddenklau, James Imrie, Kayla Imrie and Lynette Imrie.