Hawke's Bay's own Colin Bourke will proudly be representing Japan 7s in the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo, and he can't wait for the games to kick off.
While he was headed to the Olympic village, Bourke put some time aside to talk to Hawke's Bay Today about how he got to where he is from his humble beginnings in the region.
Bourke, 36, was born and bred in Napier and went to St Patrick's School and then onto Napier Boys' High.
"Dad was a handy footy [rugby] player back in his day, or so he would tell us after a few tins, and mum a squash/netball player, so sports was in my blood and a big part of my youth with all five siblings taking part in as many sports as we could growing up," Bourke said.
"My older sisters, Lorraine and Kathy played netball, my older brother Marty [now coaching Canterbury in Bunnings NPC] played rugby in the winter and cricket in the summer, and my younger sister Allie played netball, basketball and rugby."
Bourke participated in athletics, cricket and rugby all through intermediate and right up until sixth form at Napier Boys' High School.
He said fifth, sixth and seventh form rugby started to take up more and more time, as he would play for his high school team on Saturday morning then "quickly jump in the car and go play for my club team, Taradale, current Maddison trophy holders".
"From there I progressed into the First XV and then a few rep teams.
"My big break came in 2003 when I made the NZ 7s team and we went on to win the 2004-05 world series."
Straight after that he moved to Mount Maunganui to play for Bay of Plenty.
"I played eight seasons for the Bay and in that time represented the highlanders, Chiefs and NZ Māori," he said.
In 2012 he decided to move to Japan to continue his rugby career with Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo.
"And I am still here to this day," Bourke said.
"Reasons for moving there were, of course, the money was good but it was also close to home, a 10 to 12-hour direct flight.
"So didn't feel like I was across the other side of the world."
He gained Japanese nationality in 2018 and now holds a NZ and Japanese passport.
"Towards the end of the 2018 season I was approached by the coach of the national 7s team and asked if I would be interested in playing at the 2020 Olympics, which of course at that time was a little over a year and a half away," he said.
"I accepted and began training with the team at the end of 2018 and all the way up until March 2020 when the games were postponed because of Covid.
"The squad had a break and I went back to my 15-a-side team to train until we knew what the plan going forward was.
"I re-joined the team again around August 2020 and now here we are. Named in the final 12 members and on my way to the Olympic village as we speak, something I would have never thought in my wildest dreams would happen."
Bourke said he was "excited" at seeing other athletes who have worked so hard for the past four years or more towards "a common goal" of bringing a bit of joy and hope to people all around the world through the magic of sports.
"And I'm so proud to be a part of this huge sporting event and represent Japan," he said.
"My road hasn't been the normal road travelled for an Olympic athlete but that's what makes it so much more pleasing to have made it here.
"It's been a hard two to three years, especially through this pandemic, but [I'm] stoked to finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
"A huge shoutout to my wife Kelly who has been basically a solo mother of five kids while I have been away chasing this dream of mine."