She's a speed demon on the water and it seems Olympic rowing star Emma Twigg moves fast in all aspects of her life – including the romance department!
After just a year of dating Charlotte Mizzi, the athlete popped the question during a summer getaway earlier this year and now the lovebirds are set to marry before Emma takes on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Sitting next to her bubbly fiancée, Emma smiles, saying, "Charlotte just makes me laugh constantly. Regardless of what kind of mood I'm in, she can get me to laugh somehow. She's just amazing."
It was a match made in heaven right from the start as the Napier-born rower recalls the couple's first official date after being introduced by a mutual friend.
"I put Charlotte to the test and asked if she wanted to do the Tongariro Circuit because I thought if she can handle walking 46km, she's probably a keeper!" she tells. "I said we could break it up and do it in two days if she wanted, and her response was no, let's do it in one and I thought that was a good sign we're going to get along well."
Laughing, Wellington-raised Charlotte adds, "It was definitely just me trying to make a good impression. I set really false expectations that I was adventurous, but it was awesome. We haven't done a 46km walk together since!"
Just a few weeks after their adventurous date, the sports star was meant to be heading away for a four-month cycling trip through Switzerland.
"At the same time, I had thought about returning to the boat to get back and make the team for Tokyo, so I was a little bit torn about how long I should be doing the bike trip for – and then I met Char, which made it even harder," Emma recalls.
"We decided before I went away it was a goer, so we kept in contact not knowing if it would be four months away or less. Then after a couple of weeks on the trip, I thought I needed to get fit for rowing and I had this amazing girl back in New Zealand, so my trip lasted six weeks on the bike, which was about 3000km less than I should have done."
"She knows when she's on to a good thing," quips Charlotte, who works as an events specialist. It wasn't long before the Cambridge-based couple, both 32, started talking about marriage. And Charlotte's family was already on board, busy planning a trip to Tokyo to come and support Emma for her fourth Olympic Games, should she gain selection.
"They decided that after knowing Emma for only about a month!" hoots Charlotte. "But that's what gave us even more clarity about our relationship. We feel very grateful and lucky to have families that seem to get it and adore both of us."
Emma adds, "You're always wary being in a new relationship, but we were so sure at the same time. We had both been in relationships before and we knew what we wanted at this stage. We started talking about marriage quite early on. It's like they say – when you know, you know!"
When it came to buying the ring, efficient Emma wasn't mucking around either. After visiting one shop just to try on some rings, she was back the very next day to purchase a sparkler she'd noticed Charlotte had her eye on. That weekend, she decided to propose during a getaway with friends to Onemana in the Coromandel.
After spotting what she thought was a picturesque waterfall at the beach, Emma decided it was time.
"It turned out to be this tiny dribble in the rock – just a manky, dirty pond," tells Emma. "But I'd already committed in my mind. Char was really confused, but she eventually figured out what was going on.
"Afterwards, we walked along the beach and there were so many stunning spots, but for some reason, I ended up by this ugly waterfall!"
But the biggest shock of all came when their engagement news broke online and suddenly the couple were seeing their faces everywhere.
Emma explains, "For me, it was a bit of a shock when all the stories came out about our engagement. I thought it must have been a bit of a slow news day!
"Maybe because it's a same-sex relationship it's interesting to people as well. That's something we're both really comfortable with and we feel that if people see and hear about it, and it can help someone who may be struggling, then that's obviously a really good thing.
"We're both just so lucky to have each other."
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