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 David Nyika.
David Nyika always dared to be great. First at mathematics. Then with running where his Olympic dream caught light. After years of setbacks, successes and sacrifice, Nyika's long-held quest arrives in his favoured four-cornered office in Tokyo.
Four wins from a gold medal, Nyika's time is now.
Becoming the first New Zealand men's Olympic boxer since 2004 - and the sole Kiwi pugilist at these Games - has been a long, testing road for Nyika.
Missing qualification for the Rio Games four years ago cut deep, with that hurt fuelling his desire to reach this pinnacle juncture.
"I've got a bit of animosity leading into this tournament. I know I have earned it and I deserve it," Nyika, who stepped in for Hamish Bond as NZ flag bearer, said. "Looking back on my failure to qualify for the Rio Olympics, I can see maybe I wasn't as ready as I thought I was at the time.
"I'm probably still getting over it to be honest. Here today, I know that I've done what it takes to prove I'm one of the best on the planet. This is my opportunity to prove to myself that I've done the work."
Nyika started boxing as a 14-year-old at Ringside gym in Hamilton, following older brother Josh and his father Simon's passion.
From the moment Nyika first stepped in the ring his father, Simon, immediately recognised his son was home.
"I suspected he was going to be very good but you don't really know. He took to it, loved it, and showed a lot of promise from the early stage," Simon said.
"It was his first fight when I knew because he was doing stuff that normally you don't see in novices — things normally only very experienced boxers can pull off."
While Nyika's physical attributes - height, reach, strength - are obvious it's his mental strength, work ethic and relentless pursuit of excellence that characterises his development.
Having travelled to Europe and Asia amid the global pandemic to book his Olympic ticket last year, only in March when Nyika's place was officially announced did the significance of the two-decade ambition begin to dawn on the 25-year-old.
"This has been on my bucket list since I was five-years-old," Nyika said. "I was a skinny kid so I originally wanted to be an Olympic marathon runner but that dream started to fade when I grew over six-foot.
"I switched my focus to boxing when I was 14, from there it quickly became a goal to be an Olympic boxer and I've been working towards that ever since."
History beckons for Nyika when he opens his campaign in the round of 16 on Tuesday afternoon against Moroccan 22-year-old Youness Baalla, who, according to BoxRec, has an unflattering 8-14 record that includes three successive losses.
Striding to the ring as an Olympic heavyweight, Nyika seeks to emulate the feats of Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua, all of whom claimed gold medals before carving legacies in the pro ranks.
"This is the finish line for my apprenticeship. I've worked really hard to make it to an Olympics and now I've got the opportunity to test my mettle. I really want to make sure I use this opportunity as well as I can to springboard into the professional scene, then I have no idea where the future lies."
Nyika is a strong contender to become New Zealand's first Olympic boxing medallist since David Tua claimed bronze in Barcelona in 1992.
Amateur boxing judging is notoriously dicey but Nyika possesses the character, skill and confidence to potentially match the first boxing medal and only gold won by New Zealand's Ted Morgan in Amsterdam in 1928.
Joseph Parker's former coach, Kevin Barry, won New Zealand's only other Olympic boxing medal with his silver in Los Angeles in 1984.
As a gauge of his medal credentials, Nyika finished runner-up in last year's Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifier tournament in Jordan after losing to top-ranked heavyweight, Kazakhstan's Vassiliy Levit.
Despite enduring compromised preparation since due to New Zealand's closed borders and no local sparring partners at his level, Nyika backs himself to make the necessary adjustments and rise to the occasion.
Prior to clinching his second successive Commonwealth Games gold in 2018, having moved up from the 81kg to 91kg division, Nyika dyed his hair gold and duly delivered a matching medal on the Gold Coast to spark jubilant scenes from his passionate family in attendance.
There is no gold hair this time around, but his same swag remains.
"It took me three or four years from moving up from light heavyweight to heavyweight that I started actually feeling like I could mix it up with the big boys and I can actually sit and trade with whoever wants to bang, so this is about proving I have what it takes to be whatever I have to be in the ring in order to win."
Just as Nyika was born to box, the grand Olympic stage is his to own.