Brian Kelly: Parents hidden heroes behind athletes

By Brian Kelly

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I have just finished reading Graham Henry's book, The Last Word and I have to say what an amazing story.

I realise a lot of people became very vocal when the book came out a couple of weeks ago about comments he made on the 2007 Rugby World Cup semifinal against France. All I have to say about that particular game is - read the book.

Ted's book is not just about rugby, it's about achievements and setting goals and putting things in place that can help in reaching those goals.

The same applies to all sports people and, I guess, to everyday life. Having something to aim for.

At the moment, our region is certainly bathing in success. Not just at the Olympics, but on the netball courts and rugby fields.

What a fantastic run we have had over the past few weeks.

Firstly, the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic. Congratulations to them on becoming the first New Zealand franchise to win the transtasman ANZ Netball Championship, and it was awesome to see the turnout in downtown Tauranga to celebrate the win when the team paraded the trophy.

On the back of that success, last weekend the Chiefs broke the overseas stranglehold on the Super Rugby Championship and gave the South African Sharks a good old hiding in Hamilton to win the 2012 championship.

We can certainly share the honours in the win, as the Bay of Plenty is part of the Chiefs franchise.

What a great couple of weeks.

And let's not forget the Olympics, with a number of the New Zealand team coming from Tauranga.

Topping that list is young Peter Burling, who with Kerikeri's Blair Tuke, picked up a silver medal in the sailing, competing in the 49er class.

That medal has ended a 20-year medal drought for New Zealand yachting.

I can remember interviewing a shy Peter Burling on my breakfast show when he was a teenager and was beginning to make waves in his chosen sport.

As his parents will tell you, it's all about hard work and commitment and a lot of help from mum and dad.

We also can't forget our slalom canoeist, Luuka Jones, who is in her second Olympics.

Four years ago at Beijing, as a 19-year-old, she finished 21st.

In London, she made it through to the semifinals and finished 14th.

If you watched any of the slalom you will realise its one hell of a tough sport to compete in, so to achieve what she did was great.

At the tender age of 23, surely it won't be Luuka's last Olympics, even though right now Rio must seem a long way off.

But Luuka is one focused young woman, so she will be back.

Then our wonderful women's hockey team and our two local Black Sticks, Gemma Flynn and Sam Charlton.

Haven't they done well, becoming the first New Zealand women's team to make it to the Olympic semifinals.

To get to the Olympics takes a lot of hard work and dedication and our locals are doing us proud.

Certainly, the forgotten heroes behind our top athletes are the parents.

Our Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, made special mention to the parents at a breakfast he hosted in London just before the Games began.

He acknowledged the dedication and commitment by the parents in supporting their children as they rose through the ranks, whether it was getting them to the pool or to rowing at 5 o'clock in the morning, or transporting them to tournaments and regattas all over New Zealand.

It takes a lot of effort.

Believe me, I know what I am talking about; with three children who followed their sporting dreams, it's a long road and it takes a lot of support, so well done to all those parents.

The effort is worth it.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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