Billy Stairmand sees the bright side in the Olympic Games being postponed.
The Kiwi surfer is set to make his Olympic debut in Tokyo when surfing is contested for the first time in an Olympic Games setting, with Stairmand and Ella Williams qualifying to represent New Zealand in the event so far.
The dream to pull on the Olympic rash shirt will have to wait a bit longer now the Games have officially been postponed until 2021, however, but for Stairmand there was an element of timeliness to the decision.
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"For me, at this stage I'm currently injured, so it gives me a little bit more time to prepare a bit better and get myself fit and healthy," Stairmand told the Herald.
The 30-year-old strained the medial collateral ligament in one of his knees while surfing about three weeks ago, slipping awkwardly off his board in attempting an aerial manoeuvre. While he's still be land-based training, Stairmand has been keeping out of the water – something made much easier by the cancellation of all World Surf League and International Surfing Association events for the next two months at least.
This year's ISA World Games, initially scheduled to be held in El Salvador in May before being postponed, is the final qualifying event for the Olympics Games and will find the remainder of the field. There are still two spots available in New Zealand's quota for the Olympics, so it's possible Stairmand and Williams aren't the only Kiwis who hit the water in Tokyo.
For now, though, Stairmand is one of a number of Kiwi athletes who stand to benefit from the extra time afforded to them by the Olympic Games' postponement; however he says it is bittersweet looking at the situation from a short term perspective.
"I was more than ready this year. I've had a really good and successful year this year already.
"Mentally I was prepared, physically I was prepared, obviously I had a bit of a setback with the injury, but before they postponed it I was getting ready to compete in late July and August. Obviously you want it to happen and for everything to go smoothly, but you can't really control stuff like this.
"I'm kind of happy they've postponed it just for everyone out there, to keep them safe."
Like Stairmand, pole vaulter Eliza McCartney has admitted the extra time before the Games will allow her more opportunity to get back to her best.
McCartney has struggled with injuries over the past couple of years and, speaking to Radio Sport's Andrew Alderson, said she was probably pushing herself a bit too much.
"It felt like I was putting my body on the line a little bit," McCartney said, "trying to rush, essentially, to get through rehab for my injuries and be ready in time to compete.
"So there is a sense that it could be beneficial for me to have another year to prepare and I know there will be other athletes who feel the same but there will be a lot of athletes who I'm sure are devastated and are in a completely different boat.
"There will be athletes in all sorts of circumstances and all feeling very differently but for me personally, just having that little bit longer will probably help my body be more prepared and hopefully I'll be stronger next year.
"You've got to look at the plus side, right?"