Lisa Carrington is edging closer to a decision on her Olympic future.
The kayaking heroine of the Tokyo Games will make a call on her plans this month, and whether she will be around for another cycle and the 2024 Games in Paris.
It looms as the biggest decision of Carrington's sporting career.
It was speculated before the Japan Olympics that Carrington could retire, after more than a decade on the scene, though her long-time coach Gordon Walker told the Herald in June that he would be surprised if she did, given her potential for growth and further achievements.
Carrington became New Zealand's greatest Olympian in the Japanese capital, overcoming a seemingly impossible schedule to take gold in the K1 200m, K1 500m and K2 500m (with Caitlin Regal), increasing her overall tally to six medals (five gold and one bronze).
Carrington has been incomparable in the shorter sprint distance – triumphing in London, Rio and Tokyo – but that event won't continue at Olympic level. It's a blow but would also allow the 32-year-old to focus on the 500m distance, whether in solo, pair or quad boats.
As well as sports fans around the country, the powerbrokers at High Performance Sport New Zealand will be nervously waiting on Carrington's call.
Since the 2012 Olympics Carrington has been involved in 29 per cent of the 17 gold medals achieved by this country.
It's also a pivotal time for Canoe Racing New Zealand; the sport has picked up seven Olympic medals in the last three decades, with Carrington featuring in six, while her deeds have sparked a significant increase in interest and participation.
Carrington said her decision will weigh up a number of factors.
"It's around how I can continue [and] what's left," Carrington told the Herald. "What stones are left to turn, and just figuring out what that journey could look like and if it still has the same motivation, that I have had. So really it's about just finding that way forward."
The Ōhope product is dedicated to continuous improvement, which has allowed her to stay ahead of the pack, and even increase her advantage, since 2012. It means that if she decides to continue, it won't be just ticking a box.
"I don't really want to go back and just do what I just did," said Carrington. "I know that it requires more, so to really have fulfilment and to have integrity I would need to continue the path of pushing for more; the high expectation, the pressure, just knowing what it takes is a lot and being prepared to do that and figuring out how I can channel that will be something to consider.
"Am I prepared to continue to reassess what I know – and to be challenged on it more? That is how you can get better [so] it's whether or not I have enough motivation or energy to do that."
There are no half measures. Carrington has had a six day a week regime for years, with up to 10 sessions on the water, complemented by gym work and cross training.
It's her passion – Walker has previously observed that she "enjoys training, the challenge, the process" – but is also all consuming, with a lot of sacrifice, especially around her social and personal life.
Knowing when to continue and when to bow out is a huge life choice for athletes, but Carrington will be at peace with the final decision, regardless of the outcome.
"Whatever the future brings it will be the right thing, because I have thought about it a lot," said Carrington. "I'm not just going to make a decision on a feeling and I've got really good people around me."
At the same time, the 10-time world champion ruled out the idea of a sabbatical or extended break as a possible third alternative to the go/no scenario.
"Everyone's really different," said Carrington. "And I guess, when people say they take a break, what do they do in that break? What does that mean?"
"But for me anyway, there's always been a requirement for a plan. So I don't think I could take the whole year off training and then come back and expect to do more."
Carrington has been keeping busy with household projects and 'life admin' during Auckland's extended lockdown but admits it has been trying at times.
"I don't love it," said Carrington. "I'd rather be out and about, instead of trying to find things to do to keep busy."
With fiancé Michael Buck "flat out" with his banking job, Carrington has been grateful for her Cavoodle puppy Colin.
"I don't think I could have done it without him, this lockdown," laughed Carrington.
Her achievements in Tokyo were some of the most memorable moments in New Zealand sporting history but Carrington has yet to watch the races.
"I don't know - maybe I'm afraid to because I'll be too critical of myself. But obviously it's not like I haven't spoken heaps about it with Gordie [Walker].
"We've been working pretty hard on some stuff so I guess I just haven't got around to it. I don't know. Maybe I should."