Late nights for proud grandparents

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A pair of Oamaru grandparents have been losing sleep during the Rio Olympics.
Dick and Shirley Behrent have been keeping track of their granddaughter, rower Genevieve Behrent (25). The schedule of her events, in both the women’s pair and women’s eight, did not line up with their usual bedtimes.
Mr Behrent said he didn’t stay up to watch the final of the pairs, when Genevieve and Rebecca Scown were gaining on their British rivals to win the silver medal.
But he saw the eights live, and said a fourth place in the final was no mean feat. It was the first time New Zealand had a women’s eight at the Olympics, and also the first time New Zealand rowers had been in more than one boat at an Olympics regatta.
Mr Behrent said he was super-proud of his granddaughter, who spent her early years in Oamaru before moving to Invercargill. She attended Weston School until about year 3, then went to Waihopai School and Southland Girls’ High School in Invercargill.
Genevieve did not take up rowing until she was at the University of Otago, Mr Behrent said. She had been an excellent netballer, selected for the New Zealand netball talent development squad and the Southland team. She also represented Southland in water polo.
When she went to watch younger brother Oliver rowing in Invercargill, his coach, John O’Connor, told her she had the height and makings of a good rower.
They were prophetic words.
Genevieve began rowing in 2008 and just two years later joined Oliver in New Zealand age-group squads.
She had moved to Karapiro, where rowing training dominated her life, her grandfather said.
Back at Weston School, teacher Gary Paterson remembers the young Genevieve. Her father, Murray Behrent, was on the board of trustees.
“They donated a sports cup, which is presented every year to a year 8 pupil – The Behrent Family Cup for Sport,” Mr Paterson said.
He has told today’s pupils about Genevieve’s early education at Weston, which he said gave them something to follow in the Olympics and showed how a person who used to sit in their classrooms had succeeded at the top level.