High jumper Hamish Kerr, who launched himself into Kiwi sports history last week, literally talked his way back into competitive sport.
The 25-year-old became our first global high jump medallist when he won bronze at the world indoor championships in Belgrade with a national indoor record of 2.31m.
That followed an excellent 10th placing at the Japan Olympics last year.
Yet this glittering career with Olympic medal promise hung in the balance not long ago.
The Mt Eden-raised Kerr had put athletics on hold as he enjoyed university life in Palmerston North, where he was studying agricultural commerce.
His high jump peak at that point - the seventh-best height in Kiwi history - might have been the laurel he rested on forever.
But an invitation to speak at the Massey sports academy proved to be a lightbulb moment. It made Kerr realise he didn't want to live a life of regret, looking back on what might have been.
The decision to go all-out as an athlete has already paid incredible dividends and Kerr - who is based in Christchurch where coach Terry Lomax lives - is confident the best is yet to come.
How does it feel, to be a world championship medal winner and Kiwi trailblazer?
Amazing. I still haven't fully processed it. I knew I was capable, but putting it into practice is a different thing. I'm actually competing on the world stage, which is also a bit scary.
It's a massive validation for me and the support team, that what we are doing in Christchurch is working.
It is super exciting to show the rest of New Zealand and the world, all the kids coming through, that there are huge options in our sport. My most proud moment was looking at the world indoors team and seeing a sprinter, distance runner, pole vaulter, high jumper and a shot put thrower.
And you won't die wondering
I'd spent 18 months living the university life and while I told myself I was going to come back to the sport, I didn't have any ambitions. Talking to the sports academy made me realise how much I missed it. There are so many people who give sport away after high school and spend the rest of their life with the narrative "I used to do sport". I didn't want that and felt I had the potential to take it further.
Forging a new Kiwi sports path must be tricky?
It is a hard one. Terry Lomax did coach a few athletes to a high level in the UK which is why I went to him in Christchurch. But the level we are going to now has passed that.
We strike problems which we don't realise at the time are natural to the sport - for example some ankle issues I've had.
But the great thing is my support team is keen to innovate and ask the questions that guys overseas aren't asking because they just follow how everyone else does it.
I used to have difficulty comparing myself to others, but now I've got huge confidence that the way we do it works for us, that it makes me very resilient.
What are your training facilities like?
Our gym and indoor work are done at the Apollo high performance centre in Christchurch - Tom Walsh, Sophie Pascoe, the Mainland Tactix train there.
For our jump stuff we use the Christchurch Boys' High School, a little strip on the side of their field. It's a little bit budget, on the side of a busy road, the traffic stops and the people peep in. We have to drag the mats out. But it works for us. I love it.
There's something pretty cool about cruising down there on an autumn morning, having to sweep the leaves off the track, and seven days later you are competing in a packed European stadium. It's a weird feeling, but it keeps me grounded
Spectators are usually a long way from field events and broadcasters tend to jump back and forth to them
Belgrade was my first indoor competition and I loved the atmosphere in a packed smaller venue. There aren't many events on at once so the spectators can get involved.
One of the big problems in our sport is the difficulty (spectators and viewers have) getting into the contest.
Sky Sport showed the whole of my Tokyo Olympics final and the main feedback I got was people saying they didn't realise the high jump was so interesting.
One of the massively exciting things about field events is the change in momentum, the change in pace, the difference between rounds.
If the powers that be don't understand the nuances and how to make it more interesting then we've got a real problem.
High jump looks like it must involve a lot of quickly contrasting emotions?
I don't get too hyped up or dejected with misses.
But deep down there is that massive rush when you clear a height, and the scariest thing is missing a bar and not knowing why.
I felt that on my starting height in Belgrade. It was a terrible jump, I had no rhythm. There was a little bit of panic. Was everything I had worked for going up in smoke? It's about resetting, relying on what you do day in and day out, flushing the bad emotions out.
What are your major goals?
For the next three years, it's to jump 2.40m, which would put me in the top rank of jumpers who have been (The world record is 2.45m). If I can get there, there's no reason why I can't medal at the next Olympics, and even fight for that gold.
If you weren't an athlete…
That's a big reason I'm an athlete - I've got no idea.
What do you miss about Auckland?
The temperature, but not the traffic. I'd call both islands home. I love Auckland and miss my family but I also love living in Christchurch.
Can you remain based in New Zealand?
The support from High Performance NZ, the culture we've got here, in athletics especially, it's the perfect place to train and build all those hard sessions. I'm pretty lucky now - I don't work another job since Tokyo. Hopefully (the world medal) increases my brand a bit more which means we've got a bit more bargaining power, and I can do this for quite a few more years.
You beat Roger Te Puni's 39-year-old record Kiwi indoor record in Belgrade - have you met him?
Yes, the high jump community in New Zealand is quite small. Those athletes like Roger and Glenn Howard are really good guys. Roger has been giving me stick for a few years, asking "when are you going to knock my record off - it's been far too long".
He was stoked I broke the record and the way I did it and was one of the first people to send me a message, which was pretty special.
Did you have a childhood hero?
I know it's a cliche but definitely my parents. My dad (Andrew) is a pretty high performer He's a cardiologist - a physician at Middlemore Hospital - and a researcher. Seeing the difference he makes in people's lives, and what mum did to raise us, all the effort and energy, it was a huge motivator for me. If they can do all these things and juggle all that stuff and still have time to make me feel like number one in the world, then there's no reason why I can't. Mum (Bridget) was a speech therapist so she had a high-powered job herself. They both spent so much time helping us kids, wanting us to do our best in whatever we did.
High jumpers seem very supportive of each other, as we saw with you and Australian Brandon Starc at the Olympics
For the most part, we are really good mates. We understand as a group if we are all competitive and bring our unique personalities to the table it makes the sport more interesting.
But is there any gamesmanship going on?
I know back in the day, supposedly, there were certain countries who would move people's run-ups. It was a pretty big thing to keep half an eye on your piece of tape because someone was liable to move it.
Nowadays the guys are more than happy to offer advice if you are not clearing heights but if you are nailing every single one, they're probably going to steer clear.
There is a bit of stuff that goes on with some guys, but they are not the ones who do well.
Do you have any hobbies?
Golf is my big thing, which gets me to switch off. It has helped my athletics as well, because it is so mental - that understanding of how do you not let a bad shot ruin a round. How do you stand over the ball having just shanked it, remove that doubt and that feeling and really trust. When you are happy with golf and enjoying it you play your best, which is exactly the same with athletics. I'm so controlled when it comes to athletics, with small margins and tiny body positions. I swing a club and have no idea what is going on, which is pretty humbling.
Have you ever overhauled your high jump technique?
It is something we are going through at the moment. I've naturally evolved over the years with little tweaks, but made the conscious decision eight months ago to increase my speed a lot, which will generate more energy.
That will futureproof my technique - without that I wouldn't be able to jump much higher.
It changes everything - my body has to be able to a handle the load. It's like changing your golf swing - it feels weird to begin with and you don't have confidence.
I've had a lot of variability this season. Every now and then you start to feel good, which is awesome, but mostly it doesn't. I was just lucky the technique worked on the day in Belgrade. It's super exciting, knowing I can jump really high at the moment.
Were the athletes in Belgrade talking about the Ukraine war?
It was definitely on everyone's mind and some of the athletes wore Ukrainian flags or painted their nails.
There was also some bad stuff going on before the Olympics but everyone got together as a world, put our differences aside. It's sad that there are people who don't feel like that's the way we can operate.
What I've seen from sport is that we are all just people, we can all connect with each other on a certain level, which is quite humbling.
We are truly a global sport and when people are banned or can't compete because of certain things it leaves a hole.