Matt Nielsen's dreams have come true.
The Tauranga engineering apprentice will represent New Zealand in an elite trade skills event later this year in Russia.
The Bay of Plenty Times previously reported how 20-year-old Nielsen had his sights set on competing in Russia after winning gold in the welding section of the WorldSkills New Zealand competition last year.
Now, Nielsen will jump on a plane bound for Russia to compete in the 45th International WorldSkills competition in Kazan in August.
Representatives of more than 80 countries will compete, with about 200,000 visitors drawn to Kazan for the event.
Nielsen is in his third year of a mechanical engineering apprenticeship at Page Macrae in Mount Maunganui and said he was looking forward to competing in Russia, along with travelling and enjoying the country's culture.
"I'm training really hard - on top of my 40-hour working week I'm spending every weekend and some evenings welding," he said.
"I went to America for a practice training round for welding, then Australia the week after for work, then across the Tasman again for another competition.
"Welding is filling up my passport."
He said the competition helped develop his knowledge of welding, especially on the technical side.
"I'm going to give it my best and try to win."
WorldSkills NZ has been running for more than 30 years and provides skill coaching to competitors.
WorldSkills NZ general manager for partnerships and innovation Ash Siddiqui said each competitor would face mental and time pressure and have to complete complex tasks in a completely new environment.
"They'll be totally out of their comfort zone," Siddiqui said.