Nephew's bronze tops rowing haul

23:25, Aug 09 2012
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Deidre and Luke van Velthooven, of Blenheim, with nephew Simon van Velthooven and the bronze medal we won in the cycling at the Olympics this week.

Sharing in New Zealand rowing's most successful Olympic Games was great, but being there to watch his nephew win a bronze medal in the cycling was the icing on the cake, Blenheim man Luke van Velthooven says.

Mr van Velthooven,  APL Property chief executive and a Rowing New Zealand  board member, said he and his wife Deirdre had an amazing week in London, and the rowing had been incredible.

''The venue was great and was nicknamed the 'wall of noise' because as crews approached the last 500 metres of the race,  grandstands on both sides of the course erupted with thousands of people cheering on their nation.''

Having the Kiwi crews perform as well as they did had been incredible, he said.

''It was great to see the years of planning and hard work pay off and be delivered when it really counted.

''Relief is a word that could be used to describe the golds won by Eric and Hamish in the pair and Mahe in the single.

''They are such phenomenal athletes, with so much success leading into the Olympics, and they were all so focused on achieving gold in London to complete their world dominance. The moment they crossed the finish line will be painted in our memories forever.''

The men's double sculls final with Picton's Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen was ''purely exhilarating'', he said.

''These two had us all on the edge of our seats. To see a local boy reach the pinnacle of sporting achievement made us very proud. Joseph said his face was getting sore from smiling so much following his gold medal race.

''This of course was our first gold and completely set the tone for the finals to follow for what would become rowing's most successful Olympics to date. To sing the national anthem three times was something special, and a privilege.''

However, watching his nephew win a bronze at the velodrome had been the icing on the cake.

''Deirdre and I got to watch his heat race in the morning at the velodrome, sitting with his parents. He rode that superbly. It was very exciting. The velodrome is a cauldron of noise.''

The couple didn't have tickets to the final, so they, Simon's brother Ben, his cousin Anneke, some of the cycling reserves and hundreds of expats  watched it at Kiwi House, the New Zealand centre in London.

''The semi was phenomenal - Kiwi House just went off. Then for the final it was jubilation, then anxiety, then jubilation, with Kiwi House shouting us bubbles to celebrate - a fantastic way to finish an amazing week at the Olympics.''

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The Marlborough Express