Kiwi shotputter Tom Walsh has opened up on a "draining" New Zealand-based season as training ramps up ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
The Commonwealth Games gold medalist has returned to the circle full-time this week after taking six weeks off from the sport.
With the Games just eight months away, Walsh admitted the timing wasn't ideal.
But in the absence of overseas competition after opting not to travel this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Walsh said the break was needed.
"I was very mentally drained after this season ... actually surprisingly drained, it was a hell of a season that took it out on me more than I thought because I didn't have the normal energy that I get from competing against the other top guys around the world," Walsh told NZME.
"That's one of my top things that's made me realise with this whole Covid-19 crisis is that that gives me a lot of energy, that gives me a lot of motivation and it's a big reason why I do the sport. To not have that, has taken its toll a little bit.
"It's tough, there's just something missing in me ... that little fire, that little next gear, I didn't have it physically but also mentally it was hard ... it wasn't the same as what it would be if I had that wee carrot in front of me."
What's next on the calendar for Walsh is still to be confirmed, but being based in Europe for upcoming competitions looks the most likely scenario.
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In the meantime, the 2018 Halberg Awards Supreme winner will have no shortage of top-class training partners, with Dame Valerie Adams having recently linked up with his team in Christchurch.
Adams, who had worked with Athletics NZ high performance manager Scott Goodman since 2017, has joined Walsh's coach Dale Stevenson in preparation for her fifth Olympics.
Walsh said it's already been beneficial having her on board.
"Me and Val have trained a bit over the years together and we've always enjoyed each other's company so it's been good to bring her down here and throw her into the group," Walsh said.
"She's a good one to have in the mix, changes the dynamic a bit. Someone with Valerie's pedigree and what she's done, definitely changes the group a little bit but I think it's a good change and will keep us on our toes.
"We've always done stuff the way we've done stuff and she goes, 'well why are you doing it that way? have you thought about this' or vice versa as well."