As a maiden Olympic Games campaign nears for New Zealand hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist is thanking a domestic rival for her impressive peak in form in 2021.
The 27-year-old is one of two Kiwis in the sport heading to Tokyo for the delayed Games, which remain on track to begin on July 23.
She will be joined by Timaru's Lauren Bruce who only recently proved her worth as a medal hopeful at the multi-sport event.
Bruce burst onto the scene at an Athletics New Zealand Spring Series meet last September with a throw of 73.47m, smashing Ratcliffe's previous best and national record of 72.35m.
More importantly, it kick-started a run of competitions where the two went toe-to-toe, spawning a national rivalry.
However, at the national track and field championships in Hawke's Bay at the end of March, Ratcliffe returned serve with her biggest heave to date — 73.55m — reclaiming her place on top as the New Zealand women's hammer throw record-holder.
A series of exciting duels in the cage has seen the pair sit inside the global top 20.
But while Ratcliffe has had to settle for second placings at times — something that was virtually an unknown before — she says Bruce's incredible form of late has pushed her to be better.
She admits she may not be in the position she is heading to the Games, if it weren't for the 24-year-old South Islander.
"I do question whether or not I would've done this well if I didn't have someone who was very similar to me in terms of background ... showing me, lifting the lid on what's possible. It's a lot easier when you can see someone you really identify with achieving highly, and it makes it feel like it's possible for you, too," she said.
"It's been so good having Olympic-level competition right at your back door. It's really been a good thing for both of us, I think."
Ratcliffe took a break after her record-setting effort at the nationals a little over a month ago, but says she's right where she wants to be as she aims to peak at the right time for Tokyo.
"We've just finished our first training block, so we do training blocks for about four weeks. Just finished our rebuild, I had a bit of time off after nationals — a week or 10 days or so. When you come into training, you can't smash it straight away.
"Coming into that second training block, [I was] able to lift the lid a bit more on the intensity at training, so that has been exciting," Ratcliffe said.
The Olympics are set to look a lot different, with mingling in the village either side of athletes' competitions prohibited, and competitors encouraged to leave a day or two after they've finished their events.
Ratcliffe said it was a shame they could not enjoy the city of Tokyo after the Games — but the restrictions could aid her medal chances.
"When you're at those big multi-sport games and the village, there's so many distractions, so many fun thing to go and do and so many things to check out. That kind of takes that option away.
"In terms of the pre-comp stuff, not a lot will change for me. You shut everything down anyway, you're in that final stretch.
"You might go to the dining hall and see all these wonderful food options, [but] you're still trying to eat what you'd just be eating at home training in New Zealand.
"The lead-up to the competition — it's just going to remove the temptation."