It's been more than 10 years, but Waikanae's Wheel Black Gavin Rolton is finally making it to the Paralympics.
After an accident in 2005 that left him a tetraplegic with no feeling from his collarbone downwards, limited movement in his arms, and no movement in his fingers, Gavin started playing wheelchair rugby in 2007.
Making it into the New Zealand Wheel Blacks in 2009, Gavin has been part of the wheelchair rugby team since, and had to stick it out through two disappointing chances after the team missed out on making it into the London and Rio Paralympic Games in 2012 and 2016.
With Covid-19 delaying the games, they have had an extra year to prepare.
"The year has been up and down, but it's also given us another year to prepare.
"You get ready for something in your mind and your body and then it keeps getting postponed, so you have to keep resetting and refocusing.
"It's exciting now that it's happening, but up until a month ago I was still having doubts, especially with Covid-19 in Tokyo.
"It was really good to see the Olympics happen, I think the organisers did a good job of making it work and the focus was on the games and celebrating success rather than the virus."
The stakes for health and safety at the Paralympics are even higher, with many athletes being compromised by their disability.
"There are definitely nerves with my disability, which could be a little bit compromised, but I've had my vaccine and all the protocols they have put in place seem to be working.
"If anything hasn't gone as planned, I imagine they will fine-tune it for us which is a positive."
To get into Tokyo, Gavin and the team need three negative tests before they leave on Thursday, will be tested at the airport when they get there, and tested every day.
"There's all the social distancing, hygiene and sanitising too, including our chairs, which have already been sprayed with a special sanitiser which lasts about 30 days, along with all our equipment to make sure everyone is safe.
"I'm pretty excited I'm going and to be ticking off this goal with the team.
"This has been 10 years in the making for myself and the team to get back to the Paralympics.
"I've never been to one to compare, which I guess is a good thing given the difference with Covid-19 this year."
The last time the Wheel Blacks went to a Paralympic Games was 2008, narrowly missing out on London and Rio.
No one from the current team has been before, although there is still a mix of older, experienced players such as Gavin, 38, and new players coming through.
"I love the game and it's going to be an awesome experience.
"Any time you go to the Paralympics, you're there to compete.
"It's a tough competition but we're going there with our heads high, taking it one game at a time, giving it our all.
"It's all about succeeding and reaching another stepping stone to keep progressing and hopefully keep moving forward."
In wheelchair rugby, players are graded points on their level of function.
You can only field so many points on the court at a time.
With limited movement in his arms, Gavin plays as a low-pointer.
"I don't carry the ball much, I'm used to block and make lanes for the ball carrier.
"I also have a pick bar on my chair which hooks up to other chairs, so I'll hook a player and hold them."
With support from his colleagues at Drake Medox making it possible for him leave work regularly for his rugby, and support from Marcel Austmann from 318 Fitness in Paraparaumu who he trains with three or four times a week, Gavin is ready to go, leaving New Zealand on Thursday.
He will be in Tokyo for 10 days before returning to New Zealand and MIQ for 14 days.
"I'm really excited to go and to compete against the best in the world – it doesn't get any better than that."