An Olympic Games like we have never seen before is just around the corner; and I dare say that even without the crowds in Tokyo us sports-lovers will still be couch-bound for 16 days following the fortunes of our NZ sportspeople (and then another 16 days after that cheering our Paralympians on).
There has been a host of New Zealand team selection announcements recently from the individual sports and it's been fantastic to see so many of our athletes qualify for their first-ever Olympic Games.
Of course this has been helped due to the number of sports making their debut at these games; namely sport climbing, surfing, skateboarding, karate, softball (women) and baseball (men).
While some see this broadening of the number and types of sports at Olympic Games as going against the traditions of the games, I think generally it's been well-received, especially by our youth.
And while this will no doubt attract more of our youth to watch events in Tokyo, it may also entice more young people to take up these new Olympic sports.
"Extreme" sports such as skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing are definitely more popular than ever in terms of youth participation, but I'm guessing they will all experience a spike in participation following the games.
And that's especially so if New Zealanders can perform well in these new sports. One to possibly fit into this category is 19-year-old Ella Williams, recently named in the New Zealand team as our female surfer at the games. Some are saying that a podium finish is not out of the question for Ella.
Of course this has already occurred at the Winter Olympics, where 17-year-old Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (snow-boarding) and 16-year-old Nico Porteous (ski half-pipe) both won medals for NZ at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Again both are extreme sports which attract young people in droves.
And yet it's also the more traditional sports where young New Zealanders are excelling – take Northland's own Katie Doar and Hayley McIntosh as examples. They will become Northland's latest Olympians; Katie in hockey at the tender age of 19 and Hayley in swimming at age 22.
Hayley will be amongst a team of seven New Zealand swimmers who will all be making their Olympic debuts, the youngest being Erica Fairweather of Dunedin at only 17 years of age.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that it's both the "traditional" and the "new" Olympic sports which are attracting our youth to participate – and that maybe, just maybe, the fact that our youth are not having to make a choice about which sport to specialise in at an early age is helping more of them achieve on the international stage at a younger age than ever before.
Take Fairweather as an example – she wasn't always a swimmer, only learning to swim at the age of 10. However, she also played football and netball in her younger years as well as being a keen surf lifesaver.
This meant she only went to her first national age group swimming championships when she was 13; and after excelling in this first event, she went on to specialise in swimming.
Given it is around this age when many swimmers have traditionally given the sport up, Fairweather's example is significant. Having played a variety of different sports when younger (and crucially, in my view, a number of team sports), Fairweather was not "burnt out" from doing too much training too early on in her career. Five years later she will be an Olympian.
While this is an extreme case (as Fairweather obviously has unbelievable talent!), her delayed introduction to the sport has enabled that talent to be most effectively harnessed. Having fun in a variety of sports at a younger age was key to ensuring this occurred.
Let's ensure as many of our young Northlanders have that same opportunity. At the very least, this will give them the skills to participate for life.