Victory sealed with a kiss for Irene van Dyk
MARYANNE TWENTYMAN AND ANDREW GOILE
Irene van Dyk will arrive back in New Zealand today following the most emotionally draining week of her life - and it isn't over yet.
The 40-year-old shooting sensation will unpack her bags, place her winning ANZ Championship medal in her bulging cabinet of international sporting spoils, and repack her bags for South Africa.
Tomorrow morning van Dyk will board a plane with her daughter Bianca - and a heavy heart - as she prepares to farewell her "beautiful" mother - also known as Irene.
Her mother's death was well documented last week as the news reached her youngest daughter just hours before she took the court for her Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic netball team against the Northern Mystics in last Monday's tense preliminary final.
For that dramatic 74-minute game van Dyk had to cast her emotions aside and call on every ounce of grit that 18 years of international netball has taught her.
"It was such an important game for the whole team," van Dyk said. "And I knew Mum would have wanted me to play and give it my all."
"That's why I didn't want people outside the team knowing that Mum had passed - the focus had to be on that game," she said.
Last night emotions finally flowed freely for van Dyk who was elated to have finally reached the pinnacle of the trans-Tasman championship having twice climbed the mountain without reaching the summit before.
Van Dyk embraced Casey Williams in a massive hug while the Magic players held their trans-Tasman netball league trophy aloft under the flying red, yellow and black confetti at Hisense Arena after beat the Melbourne Vixens 41-38 to become the first New Zealand team to win the title in the fifth year of the competition.
"It wasn't only for us here, it was for the whole of New Zealand. We had such a lot of best wishes from all over New Zealand so it was a pretty big game if you look at it that way."
The victory was "brilliant", she said.
"We have worked bloody hard for this and it just shows how tight we are as a group and how much we wanted to win the title."
Now the focus turns to her mother's funeral in her hometown of Meyerton, 30 kilometres south of Johannesburg at the end of this week.
Mrs Viljoen was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2010, her youngest daughter returned several times to visit.
"We knew Mum was getting worse each time - it was hard being so far away, but I have an amazing family who surrounded her with so much love and were with her till the end."
Van Dyk said she would treasure the special months her mother spent in New Zealand - her second home.
"She really did love it here and could see why we wanted to settle in New Zealand - I think she was happy because we were happy."
- © Fairfax NZ News