Parents, fans and satisfied tourists
It is a long way from the French High Pyrenees to Matamata but for Tonio and Gisele Di Girolamo the trip will be worth it if their son Re´ mi (28) can win a medal for France at the 2010 Rowing World Championships this week.
The Di Girolamo’s are staying in Matamata after visiting Taupo and completing the Tongariro walk, and hope to fit in day trips to Rotorua and White Island between Re´ mi’s training and heats for the men’s lightweight double sculls with his rowing partner Jeremiah Azou.
They are hopeful their son will make the final, although he will probably be challenging hot favourites Storm Uru and Peter Taylor from New Zealand and the strong British duo of Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter.
‘‘The competition is hard and tough. We hope he will get a medal but it will be difficult as there are many good rowers. We will be happy if Re´ mi has a good race with no mistakes,’’ Mrs Di Girolamo said.
He is in with every chance having won medals at the 2006, 2007 and 2008 world champs in the lightweight quadruple sculls, as well as picking up a bronze medal in the double sculls at September’s European champs in Portugal. But the couple have a second team to cheer for now.
‘‘We will be happy if France or New Zealand gets the gold medal,’’ Mr Di Girolamo said.
The High Pyrenees are noted for their stunning alpine vistas and mountain torrents and it is a popular spot for kayakers, although it lacks the quiet water for rowers.
The couple say New Zealand is both similar and different to the town they come from but their 23-day trip has been wonderful so far.
‘‘It is very green here and the people are very nice and happy to help you.’’
Support: Tonio and Gisele Di Girolamo have travelled from France to Matamata to support their son Re´ mi at the 2010 Rowing World Championships.