Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

Olympics: From New Zealand with love

Steve Tew, CEO of the New Zealand Rugby Union Photo / Brett Phibbs
Steve Tew, CEO of the New Zealand Rugby Union Photo / Brett Phibbs

Family and friends of Kiwi Olympians face a nervous time at the Rio Games - none more so than New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew, who is preparing for a race of his own.

On the morning of August 9, Tew will be a proud father at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas rowing venue - where he'll watch 22-year-old daughter Ruby make her Olympic debut in the women's coxed eight.

But from there the NZR chief won't have much time to bask in the moment. Instead, duty calls and he must make sure he's across town in time to watch the women's sevens, who are likely to be in the final or bronze medal playoff.

Ruby Tew. Photo / Getty Images
Ruby Tew. Photo / Getty Images

If anyone's keen for Rio's under-fire Olympic infrastructure to deliver, it's Tew.

"The rowing's in the morning so we'll be fine for that. I'm hoping the transport system will work so I can get across to Deodoro for the women's sevens - as long as they're in the final, that's the critical thing," Tew said.

With Rugby Sevens and his daughter both making their Olympic debuts, Tew says the next fortnight's mix of business and family duties will be an emotional rollercoaster.

"It'll be a huge couple of weeks," he said. "It's fair to say it's nerve-racking. We're taking quite a group and like all families, we'll be immensely proud."

There also promises to be drama at the aquatic stadium, where freestyle swimmer Lauren Boyle is set to be New Zealand's standout story from week one of the Games.

Allan Boyle, father of Kiwi 400m and 800m freestyle ace Lauren, has watched his daughter's career defy the odds. At 28 Boyle's age has not only pushed the boundaries of world swimming, but in one of the most gruelling realms in sport, she's actually become better over time.

With a superb chance of becoming the first Kiwi to win an Olympic swimming medal in two decades, this will be the grand finale for the three-time Olympian. And it's a regatta her father says is bound to bring a tear to his eye.

"I didn't go to Beijing and I didn't go to London. The defining thing this time is that Lauren is a multiple Olympian and she wants family there at the end," Boyle said.

"It's not that rare to compete in two but in the modern era of the Summer Games, only 6 per cent of female Olympians achieve three. Knowing what a feat that will be to stick on a New Zealand swimmer, I'll feel very emotional when she climbs out after her 800m."

Gabriel Price and Valerie Adams. Photo / Photosport
Gabriel Price and Valerie Adams. Photo / Photosport

Those statistics make Valerie Adams' latest Games - her fourth - even more impressive.

Hunting a third straight Olympic gold - a feat no individual female athlete has achieved in the history of track and field - an emotional Adams paid tribute to those closest to her.

"I'm very grateful for all my friends and family who support me, and my eternal parents, who I know are here in spirit with us," Adams said. "And I would like to thank my dear husband, I love you."

Ryan Fox with his father Grant Fox. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Ryan Fox with his father Grant Fox. Photo / Brett Phibbs

However, one iconic Kiwi sports fanatic who won't be in Rio to watch his son is All Blacks selector Grant Fox.

The rugby great has caddied for his golfer son Ryan in the past but will have to settle for the couch this time.

"I'd rather be caddying for him. I'm not the best watcher, even though I'd like to think I've got a reasonable idea of what he's going through," Fox said.

"He's based in Europe so going to be in yet another different time zone, I'm already becoming a bit of an insomniac getting up in the early hours of the morning to check the leaderboard and then try to get back to sleep.

"It's great he's chasing his dream, he's a lucky boy and I'm proud to have an Olympian in the family."

- NZ Herald

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