Squash star Joelle King has returned to Aotearoa to receive a warm welcome at Maungatautari Marae in Cambridge.
The visit marked her first time home since her double-gold medal victory at the Commonwealth Games in March and her debut competing at the World Series final in Dubai this month.
King, of Ngāti Porou, spoke to Te Kāea reporter Tamati Tiananga about how it was great to be home, where she was born and raised.
“A lot of elders that are here at the marae have seen me since I was in nappies so I think it was just a beautiful occasion," she says.
“I just flew back from Dubai and I’m not always home for long but it was just a beautiful time to celebrate with people from all walks of my life that have been there through different stages and it’s been a beautiful evening.”
She dedicated the occasion to celebrating people who have helped her throughout her journey.
“When you’re an athlete people just see the finished product and they don’t actually realise what goes on behind the scenes and the amount of people it actually takes to make what we do possible for me. So for me, it’s not about celebrating me but all the people who have been behind my career so far.”
She also hoped the visit could inspire tamariki.
“For the kids as well to come along and see my medals and really just feel like I’m just a normal person who’s worked hard and if it makes them believe that they can go on and do something like that at the Commonwealth Games then it’s a successful night.”
From today until Sunday, King, who is ranked number four in the world, will compete for her seventh national title in the National Championships in Auckland.