Dad will be watching down on me in Rio, says golf star Stephanie Meadow
Northern Ireland's Olympics-bound golfer Stephanie Meadow has revealed her belief that her late dad Robert will be looking down on her when she plays in Rio later this month.
The 24-year-old from Jordanstown, who is based in South Carolina in the United States, will be part of sporting history representing Ireland when golf takes place at the Games for the first time since 1904.
Meadow admits she wishes Robert, who died of cancer last year, was going to Brazil along with her mum Louise, but is convinced he'll be there in spirit.
"My mum and I were talking about dad earlier this week and how excited he would have been to go to the Olympics," Stephanie told the Belfast Telegraph.
"He was always a big sports fan and for him to have been with us at the Olympics would have been awesome. I believe he will be looking down on me and he will see all of it. I won't lie, though, it hit me hard this week. There are different moments when it hits you. I just wish he was still with us."
Meadow's parents relocated to the US with their daugher in 2006 and Stephanie says her mum has been like a rock through difficult times.
"She is a remarkable woman and handles everything with such grace. She has been such a support to me when she has been going through such a tough time herself.
"Mum picked up her whole life and moved to America and has been there for me forever. We hold each other up when we can.
"It's great she is going to the Olympics. I didn't think we were going to get her a hotel because I was called up late, but thanks to the International Golf Federation they found a spare room."
Meadow burst on to the golf scene in 2014, finishing third in the US Open at her first professional event.
Following her dad's death, however, she struggled with her form and is only just starting to feel good about her game again.
"It was really hard. I literally went back on tour a few days after the funeral. We had a funeral in America and then a funeral back in Ireland. They were about a month apart.
"My dad had said that he wanted me to play and not waste any more time, so I had a couple of events that I could play in and decided that, for him, I would go do it," she said. "Going back to play straight away was harder than I ever imagined and looking back maybe I shouldn't have jumped right into it so fast, but at the end of the day that's what my dad wanted me to do, so obviously I was going to do it.
"The whole year was just a year of me working hard and getting nothing out of it, which was tough to take. I didn't realise how much my personal life would affect my golf life, but eventually all the hard work paid off and I feel I am playing better now. My team have been great and I'm so thankful that they have stood by me and helped me through, especially my mum."