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.

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