He has gargled his mouth religiously for more than two months but Tom Walsh believes there is one thing that'll instantly remove the bitter taste left there after his shot put bronze at the Doha world championship in Qatar late last year.
"I think gold around my neck in Tokyo will be pretty bloody good, wouldn't it," quipped Walsh, grinning from ear to ear as he warmed up with home-boy Nick Palmer at the HB Regional Sports Park in Hastings before competing at the annual, 21st edition of the Allan and Sylvia Potts Memorial Classic on Saturday.
"It's definitely [bitter taste] still there but it's a great thing," he said, revealing he wouldn't have changed a thing about Doha at all.
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Walsh, the then world championship defending champion, had smashed the 32-year-old global mark with a 22.90m throw in Doha last October.
The Rio Olympics bronze medallist had registered five consecutive no-throws thereafter as American rival Joe Kovacs (22.91m) eclipsed him in the final round while Olympic champion Ryan Crouser pegged 22.90m to clinch silver on a countback.
A lousy 1cm had separated the trio with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) reportedly dubbing it as "undoubtedly the best contest of all time".
"When that had managed to happen [smashed world record] that's the way it was so there's not much else that has changed," said the Timaru-born 27-year-old who is based in Christchurch.
"I gave it a good crack and went after it to set me up the way I had wanted so at the end of the day I got beaten by two other guys who managed to pull out that day very much the same throw that I did."
Walsh ruled out having gone off the boil after eclipsing the world mark that day and felt he was simply pushing the limits to 22.30m-plus but couldn't stay in the ring in four attempts.
"Maybe that's because I was pushing a little bit more and shaking a bit more," he said. "I definitely didn't sit back to put up my feet."
The Olympian, with four other fellow athletes, had arrived late to Napier from Christchurch after their flight was delayed from the south due to fog.
But that didn't stop Walsh and co from shunting and grunting with steel balls, elastic straps and a spine alignment gadget — and that was just for warming up as a gentle breeze cut across the park on a balmy day.
"It's always sunny when I come to Hawke's Bay," he said. "I'm not sure if it's me that makes it sunny or it's always sunny."
However, he was delighted to be here with 19-year-old Palmer, who now also trains in coach Dale Stevenson's stable, for their first meeting of the athletics season.
"Richard Potts and so many people put so much of their own time and effort to put it on. They run it really well up here."
He likens the Potts Classic to the opening test match of the season for the All Blacks.
"I'll want to dust off a few cobwebs but I want to do better than what I did last year," he said, after predictably clinching the title here with a throw of 21.38m and, in doing so, eclipsing his own meeting record of 21.14m established the previous year.
Fellow Tokyo Olympics qualifier Jacko Gill, of Takapuna Amateur Athletics, was second at 20.34m although he won't be competing at the Potts Classic this time.
"Every year we're trying to improve on things and the first one is tricky but I try to make it better to make myself feel more comfortable at the first competition while trying to get more and more out of it," said Walsh, who has the World Indoor Athletics Championship in Nanjing, China, beckoning from March 13-15, along with the Diamond League trials.
Primarily his ambition here is to remain true to the processes he has formulated with Stevenson leading to the stepping stones before the ultimate quest to claim preferably his maiden gold in Tokyo from July 24 to August 9.
The Christchurch builder who has won three world titles — two indoors at Portland, Oregon, in 2016, and outdoors in Birmingham, England, in 2018 — chuckles when it's pointed out how Stevenson has observed him evolving into a different beast from year to year.
"I tell you what, I feel more aches and pains this year than I did last year so coming back to training was a bloody tough one," he said, again displaying a wicked sense of humour seldom found in pedigree field athletes.
On a serious note, Walsh felt each year he found his stance in the rotational circle with a better grasp of what to do to make that steel ball go just that bit further.
"It's also knowing what I cannot get away with, too, sometimes."
That, at times, equates to taking back-to-back meetings in his stride on the road by doing the bare minimum to maintain his constitution.
"The rest is becoming more and more important for me all the time."
The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games gold medallist clarifies that by emphasising he loves nothing more than travelling the world, competing and beating his arch rivals. The challenges of pushing himself outside his mental comfort zone and unbridled strength also have become a fix.
"What we've done is that we've cut the stress a lot, you know, because when you're young kids you do a lot of throws, you spend a lot of time in the gyms and do a lot of exercises and stuff.
"I've worked out over the years that these are the important exercises that I need to hit some good numbers on or moving the bar at a certain speed or moving it with a certain weight on it," he explained.
"And also in terms of the circle, too, where the numbers of throws I take now compared to two, three, four years ago is a lot [fewer] so it's not rocket science. It's just simple stuff."
Dame Valerie Adams (shot put) will add to an already star-studded Potts Classic field with sprinters Eddie Osei-Nketia and Zoe Hobbs.
Fans will relish the national 3000m championship which has lured 24 men in a tightly balanced field, including Olympic triathlon hopeful Hayden Wilde coming off a solid performance in Tauranga recently.
Nine will vie for honours among the females, including Maiya Christini and Anneke Grogan as favourites.