Jenny and Tom Nyika are bursting with pride.
The Oamaru couple have been cheering on their Olympian grandson, David Nyika, who won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games for heavyweight boxing.
Adding to their grandson’s first Olympics experience was his last-minute call-up to be New Zealand’s opening ceremony flag bearer.
New Zealand rower Hamish Bond stepped down from the role when the rowing was rescheduled and the boxer stepped up to lead the group, alongside rugby sevens captain Sarah Hirini.
Mrs Nyika said she stayed up until 1.30am to watch the opening ceremony, only because of her grandson’s involvement.
“We felt very proud of him, and very happy for him. I think he felt really honoured to be there,” Mrs Nyika said.
Mr Nyika said it brought a piece of one of the world’s biggest sporting events to Oamaru.
“I think the whole community felt a bit of pride in that – there’s a bit of connection in Oamaru,” Mr Nyika said.
Their grandson was dominant in two of his three fights, winning 5-0 against Morocco’s Youness Balla and Belarus’ Uladzislau Smiahlikau.
It was the opening fight against the Moroccan that left people stunned, when Balla appeared to try to bite the bronze medallist’s ear.
Mr and Mrs Nyika said they were very proud of their grandson’s reaction to the unusual event.
“I think the nicest part for me was that he was saying ‘don’t condemn that guy for trying to bite my ear’,” she said.
“He’s got a very gentle nature. That’s part of his personality. He’s such a nice guy, it seems a funny thing for him to want to do boxing.”
Those gestures continued through the games.
After he lost 4-1 to Russian Olympic Committee boxer Muslim Gadzhimagomedov in the gold medal qualifier, to win bronze, he knelt in front of his opponent as a mark of respect.
The Nyikas had not spoken to their grandson since he had been in Tokyo, but sent him their best wishes before he left.
“When he left he said ‘Granddad, I’m going to make you proud’, and I said ‘David, whatever happens, we are already proud of you’,” Mr Nyika said.
After winning two Commonwealth Games gold medals, heading to the Olympics had long been the boxer’s dream.
He almost qualified for Rio in 2016 – he went to Brazil to see the Olympic set-up before hand – but broke his hand in the Olympic qualifying match.
Finally getting to the Olympics was a full circle moment, and his grandparents could not have been more thrilled to have watched him reach his goals.