Swimmer Wins Court Battle to Compete, Despite Parental Consent

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New Zealand court has just agreed that a 17-year-old swimmer can compete for his country without the permission of his parents, who disapprove of his girlfriend.

While it usually wouldn’t seem to be connected, 17-year-old Justine Wright’s parents didn’t like the idea that their son was dating 24-year-old U.S. Olympic gold medal swimmer Rhiannon Jeffrey, so they refused to give him permission to swim for New Zealand. Jeffrey and Wright met at a swim club in New Zealand where Jeffrey was training in her bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

His parents have never met Jeffrey, but do not feel the age difference is appropriate. Justin Wright will turn 18 in just a few months.

Justin’s mother, Sandy, who was a former club secretary, sent dozens of e-mails to club members demanding that Rhiannon and Justin’s coach intervene in their relationship.

The story has been long drawn out since the pair starting dating. Justin has moved out of his parent’s home and after his parent’s refused to pay his Swimming New Zealand club fees, he got a group from the West Auckland Aquatic parents to help him.

In an unprecedented case, Justin won a court case, allowing him to be a member of Swimming New Zealand without the permission of his parents. His application in court was not opposed. His father denies that the revocation of permission was not due to his son’s relationship, but because he had broken house rules.

Justin Wright competed at the Auckland Winter Championship shortly after the decision came down.

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