LIESL Tesch has won a gold medal in sailing at the Paralympics only days after her Lake Macquarie-based mother died.
Pam Tesch, of Blackalls Park, died on Sunday morning after a long battle with cancer and at the end of her daughter’s first day of racing.
Son-in-law Jarrod Vero said she would be ‘‘missed by everyone who came in contact with her’’.
Mr Vero, of Mayfield, is married to Liesl’s sister Trudii Tesch-Vero.
He said Pamela Tesch was a ‘‘unique person’’.
‘‘Liesl and Trudii are both extraordinary women and they wouldn’t be the people they are without Pam’s support, guidance and love,’’ Mr Vero said.
‘‘She was a phenomenal mother to both girls.’’
Kay Cooper, of Wangi Wangi, said her friend Pamela Tesch wanted her daughter to go to the Paralympics, despite her ill health.
‘‘She had hoped to hang on until Liesl got back,’’ she said.
Liesl Tesch, 43, grew up at Coal Point, attended Toronto High School and studied at the University of Newcastle.
She lives in Woy Woy and teaches geography at Brisbane Water Secondary College on the Central Coast, but considers herself Novocastrian.
She and her racing partner Daniel Fitzgibbon had an unassailable lead heading into the final race of last night’s two-person keelboat event.
The pair secured top spot with one race to go at Weymouth and Portland, in Dorset on the English south coast. The pair will take gold, barring a protest or unforeseen event.
Pamela Tesch’s funeral will be held on September 22, which would have been her 73rd birthday.
The timing will allow Liesl Tesch to attend.
She said in England yesterday it was ‘‘a beautiful way to celebrate my mum’s life to win gold on a beautiful sunny day at the Paralympic Games’’.
Brisbane Water Secondary College Woy Woy campus principal David Allomes said the school was excited for her.
‘‘She has a great relationship with students and they are very supportive of her and extremely excited,’’ Mr Allomes said.
Liesl Tesch is a former wheelchair basketball player who, in five Paralympics with the Gliders, won two silvers and a bronze.
She planned to dedicate the gold medal to her mother.
‘‘We knew that mum had cancer for a long time ... we knew it was coming,’’ Liesl Tesch said. ‘‘I didn’t think it would come quite so quickly, but I was mentally prepared for what I had to do.
‘‘She taught me so much.’’
Liesl Tesch broke her back after coming off her mountain bike aged 19, while riding around her neighbourhood at Coal Point.
She fell two metres onto a cement driveway, leaving her an incomplete paraplegic with only partial use of her legs and dependent on a wheelchair for long distances.