Cheering an Olympic star

By HANNAH WALKER

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While spectators around the world have been tuned into the international spectacular that is the Rio Olympics this week, there is a family in Whangamomona with a personal connection to the games.

Publicans of the Whangamomona Hotel, Richard and Vicki Pratt, are cheering on the New Zealand rowing team supporting their daughter Kayla Pratt.

In the lead-up to the international event, Kayla said the Olympic games was the pinnacle of her rowing career.

Kayla, who rows for the Auckland Rowing Club, first began rowing in 2006 at Epsom Girls' Grammar School.

"I was drawn to rowing after I was made aware of it through family friend who had done it. They seemed to really enjoy it."

Since high school Kayla's rowing career took off, being called up to the New Zealand elite team in 2013 for the World Rowing Championships. She has competed in the World competition every year since, and was part of the silver medal eight that qualified for the Rio games.

Kayla says competing in the Olympics has always been a dream for her and became a goal to work towards. While she is based in Cambridge, she says home is wherever her parents are.

"I have visited the Whangamomona hotel quite a few times. Not so much in the last six months as I have been so busy with the build-up to Rio. But I am looking forward to spending time there with my family on my return."

For Kayla the build-up to Rio included a focus on fitness, technique, nutrition and physiology. Working on the synergy of a team is also important. The team completed two or three training sessions a day, six days a week.

"Every session requires different levels of intensity."

While Kayla is living her dream of competing on the Olympic stage, she already has plans for when she returns to New Zealand.

" I have always wanted to climb Mt Taranaki which I am looking forward to doing in my break after Rio, as well as exploring the Taranaki Region more."

The NZ women's eight made their Olympic debut with an impressive second place to Great Britain on Monday night.

- Stratford Press

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