Over the next fortnight, the Herald will feature 12 Kiwi athletes or teams to keep an eye on at the Games - whether for their medal potential, rapid global rise, or captivating road to Tokyo. This is the story of Emma Twigg.
For Kiwi rower Emma Twigg, three consecutive medalless Olympic campaigns have been the ultimate "dud result" staining her otherwise stunning career.
But it's been the driving factor behind the 34-year-old's renewed commitment to represent New Zealand at her fourth Games.
"I'm certainly going to do my best and I know that if I'm in the best shape of my life, I'll be standing on the podium," Twigg said shortly before departing for Tokyo.
"The [performance] curve is exponential and I feel like I've been heading in the right direction."
Judging by what we've seen over the first few days of rowing, she's right.
Twigg on Sunday blitzed the competition on her way to a spot in Wednesday's women's single scull semifinal.
She made her rowing debut in 2006 in a New Zealand eight before switching to the single a year later.
In the years following, Twigg claimed five World Championship medals, including gold in 2014. She called it quits at the conclusion of the 2016 Rio Olympics, after the heartbreak of finishing fourth in the single sculls - matching her London Olympics result.
A shattered Twigg at the time described it as a "nightmare," but by 2019, she was back in the boat determined not to finish her career on a sour note.
Not even the Covid-19 lockdown and postponement of the Tokyo Games saw her waver in commitment to make sure fourth time's the charm, well aware this year's campaign could be her last.
"I was pretty matter of fact about [the postponement] at the time, and it didn't really sink in till six, seven weeks later," she told the Herald. "But since then, everything has rolled around pretty quickly, and looking back, I think it was probably a blessing that I've had an extra year of training.
"Retirement is always on my mind. But I've taken the approach that while I'm enjoying what I'm doing I'll continue to do it ... not many people get to call this their job and I feel like I'm really privileged to do it and so long as my body is able and I'm still at the front of the pack, I'll keep it up.
"You never know when an injury or illness could end [your career] as well, so I'm certainly going into Tokyo thinking that it could be my last."
This year's preparation has been drastically different for Twigg, with Rowing New Zealand having opted out of sending her and other athletes overseas for World Cup events in the lead-up to the Games.
It's the same approach taken by many other sports with travel restrictions and managed isolation heavily disruptive to athlete's training schedules.
It left Twigg in the dark, however, not knowing what level her opponents would be at.
But she said it works both ways and could end up working in her favour.
"It's been quite different in the perspective that we're not heading to Europe and racing like we had done for the past two years so we're probably not really going to have a gauge on how fast we're rowing until we race," she said. "But in the same token, in terms of preparation and what we're doing in New Zealand, it's all very similar.
"In general, the vibe is really good amongst the team and we've got some great benchmarks."
Those benchmarks are being led by a group of 12 former and current world champions - all from female crews including double sculls combo Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe, who have impressed on their way to the Tokyo final - also on Wednesday.
"We've got great depth here to benchmark ourselves so the rest of the world is going to be left scratching their heads...
"We'll use it to our advantage that they don't know what we've been up to."
Before departing for Tokyo earlier this month, Twigg was pleased with where she was at and hoped the hype of the Games would see her produce record results.
"In terms of my earlier results, I'm still hitting personal bests in my grandma years," she laughed.
"The Olympics is something that I've learned is very special and people will do crazy things to win."