Black Ferns Sevens star Tyla Nathan-Wong has turned the Tokyo Olympics' year-long delay into a benefit for her both on and off the field.
Winning gold at Tokyo has been a burning desire for the playmaker since she was part of the team that agonisingly lost the final at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro to Australia.
The Tokyo Games were scheduled to take place in July and August last year; but were postponed due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Both the fulltime professional Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens squads are based in Mt Maunganui, working towards a rescheduled Olympics to begin on July 23.
Nathan-Wong said while Covid-19's impact on the sporting world had obviously been frustrating, she believed her team having more than a year off the global Sevens circuit would be a positive for her in the long-run.
"I am more energised and ready for the Olympics than I would have been this time last year," the 26-year-old told the Herald on Sunday.
"I think it has been a positive for me. I can't speak for everyone, but for me it has been a positive."
Nathan-Wong is the second-highest capped player in Black Ferns Sevens history and also only the second player to have reached the 1000-point mark in World Rugby's Women's Sevens World Series.
As well as leading to the postponement of the Olympics, the Covid-19 pandemic also halted the World Series.
Nathan-Wong said players couldn't afford to dwell, saying "it is out of our control".
"The only thing that we can control is how we wake up in the morning and how we turn up for training every day . . . when I pull on my boots and what effort I put in in the training," she said.
Not being able to travel internationally had meant the past year had been the longest Nathan-Wong has spent in New Zealand for the past decade.
"And I actually thoroughly enjoyed it; being able to spend time with my family, to really work up this start of a relationship with my partner and spend time with his family is something that I needed, but didn't know I needed."
Meanwhile, Nathan-Wong says she hasn't given up on her dream of making her debut in the national 15-a-side team.
While one of the best players on the Women's Sevens circuit, she is yet to break into the Black Ferns.
As well as winning gold at this year's Olympics, Nathan-Wong had also targeted winning selection in the Black Ferns squad for the 2021 Rugby World Cup which was scheduled to be hosted by New Zealand.
Earlier this month World Rugby announced the event had been postponed until next year due to Covid-19.
"If the coaches want me I will 100 per cent put my hand up for selection," Nathan-Wong said.
Making the Black Ferns had always been one of her "goals and dreams".
Nathan-Wong lined up for Northland in last year's Farah Palmer Cup after the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.
As well as giving her a chance to shine in the 15-a-side code, it also highlighted to her the sacrifices women's players not fortunate enough as her to be fulltime professionals made to play the sport they loved.
"I loved going back to a game that I first started in and being in a different environment; going away from a professional environment to then pretty much a non-professional environment and seeing, especially in Northland, how much these ladies were sacrificing just to play in this team, to train two times a week and go away with the team on the weekend.
"A lot of them were mums with families. Because Northland is so big, some of these girls travel two or three hours to training twice a week. To see that sacrifice of everything they went through helped me appreciate what I do for a living and what I get to do every day when I am in the professional Sevens environment. "