Few would have realised that last night's ANZ Netball Championship match was the toughest of star shooter Irene van Dyk's life after her mother died just hours before.
Van Dyk received a call from her husband Christie early yesterday to say that her mother, also Irene, had died at home in South Africa following a long battle with cancer.
"It was possibly the toughest day of my life," van Dyk said this morning.
"I was just really comforted to know that Mum had passed away in her sleep and that she is now free from pain.
"I knew Mum would have wanted me to carry on with last night's game - she has always been a huge supporter of my netball and I wanted to win last night’s game for her."
Team-mates rallied around van Dyk, who slotted the crucial goal in last night's hard fought match to draw the game 44-all and force the match into extra time. The Magic won the game 57-48 setting up an exciting final against the Vixens in Melbourne this Sunday, when van Dyk will once again take the court before flying out to South Africa on Monday morning.
"I have to see this through and the family back home are also very supportive," van Dyk said.
Her mother will be buried in her hometown of Meyerton at the end of next week.
Waikato Bay of Plenty chief executive Sheryl Dawson paid tribute to the composure shown by the 40-year-old goal shoot in last night's game.
"Irene, as always, was a consummate professional who put her team before all else despite her immense sadness having lost her Mum," Dawson said.
"We are so fortunate to be blessed with such a strong and amazing player and we will be doing everything we can to support Irene in the coming days."
- © Fairfax NZ News