With the Olympic Games officially opening in Japan on Friday night, Whanganui sports fans will be keeping a particularly close eye on its five hometown heroes.
Rowers Kerri and Jackie Gowler, Georgia Nugent-O'Leary and Chris Harris and kayaker Max Brown make up the five-strong Olympians who hail from Whanganui.
Sport Whanganui CEO Danny Jonas said seeing athletes from Whanganui on the Olympic stage showed that anyone could make it, and that Whanganui had the systems and facilities for elite athletes.
"When you know someone from Whanganui, it just gives you that extra attachment to wanting them to succeed. From your hometown, you want them to rise above."
Jonas said the Olympics was always a special event.
"It's one of those things that's hard to manage or monitor. But you sit around the staff room table and there are always conversations going on."
He said sport as we knew it was changing with a new crop of sports set to hit the Olympic stage such as surfing, breakdancing and sport climbing.
"It's reflective of the way the world is changing. What's around the corner, who knows, but who would have thought surfing would be there? I don't think this will stop either - these more recreational-type activities will be at the forefront over the next 20 years."
Former Olympic rower and Whanganui district councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan has mixed feelings when she reflects on the Games.
Competing in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, USA, the results didn't go as she wished, taking a fourth and sixth place.
But it was everything else about the Olympics that provided her with the most memories.
"We had a couple of great years after that, winning a couple of golds and bronze at the World Championships. I would trade all of them for an Olympic gold. We all know that is the pinnacle.
"But it's all the other experiences that you associate with the Olympics that you really remember. It's the amazing atmosphere of the village and wide range of athletes, everything is right there for you."
She hopes that with the Games operating in a tight Covid-19 bubble, that athletes still get to experience all the things that come with being an Olympian.
"But they would have prepared for that. When I put my head back to a competitor, you are completely focused on the task."
Baker-Hogan spoke highly of Whanganui's rowing contingent, and feels they're in good spot to compete with the world's best.
"What they all have in common to get to that level is an incredible amount of resilience, determination and competitiveness."
She is tipping Kerri Gowler in the women's pair, with Grace Prendergast as having a great shot at claiming a medal. Kerri will also be competing in the women's eight alongside sister Jackie.
Baker-Hogan applauded Max Brown and his climb to the elite level, fuelled by self-belief and dedication.
"He admits himself that he wasn't the best, but just got that bug and love for it. It's an incredible story of what you can do if you keep working at it and believe."
Former national cycling coach Ron Cheatley said the Olympics was like nothing else.
"The first time you go, it's like nothing you have seen before. Trying to achieve sporting success on the Olympic stage is a major hurdle. Every country in the world prepares itself for that four-year cycle."
Coaching riders in four Olympic Games across 20 years, Cheatley has fond memories of one Games in particular.
"It had to be Barcelona, that was when we had New Zealand's first ever Olympic cycling medal with Gary Anderson, the local boy.
"Having coached him since he was a schoolboy through to winning eight Commonwealth medals and then winning that Olympic bronze, that was really special."
He hopes that hosting the Games in the Covid-19 environment doesn't cause any issues for Japan.
"At the end of the day, no one wants to see an Olympics that causes problems for the local community. Hopefully it all runs smoothly."
With Brisbane recently confirmed as the 2032 Olympics host, Baker-Hogan said it was really exciting to have an Olympics down under, and it presented a great opportunity for future athletes to aspire too.
"That is really exciting, Olympics down under are very rare. It's a fabulous opportunity, not just sporting but economically as well."
With the next crop of athletes in their early teens, she said it was important to not push them too hard.
"We have a real job to do as a country and a community and not push them. We are talking about kids coming to high school now, and there is a real nurturing job to be done there."
"It's the 'balance is better' approach. We need to be cautious around early specialisation and let kids have a go at everything and then find their niche."
On the streets of Whanganui there were mixed views about the Olympics.
"I'm still happy about the Olympics going ahead. If they cancel it, they cancel it. I'll watch it while I can. I want us to bring in some gold medals," Richard Hartell said.
Alison Simonson said: "I don't think they should be having them. They've gone so hard trying to get rid of Covid. They've gone over and started with one or two [cases] and now, what is it up to 70 they've got over there? I feel sorry for Japan and I know they've put millions of dollars into it ... but I just don't think it's a good thing to do."
Results and upcoming races for Whanganui athletes:
Chris Harris and Jack Lopas got off to a good start in their campaign on Friday, finishing third in their heat and advancing to the semi-finals.
The women's quadruple scull featuring Georgia Nugent-O'Leary finished fourth in their heat, and will be going through to the repêchage.
Kerri Gowler, in the women's pair with Grace Prendergast, have their first heat at 12.50pm on Saturday.
On Sunday, siblings Kerri and Jackie Gowler race in the women's eight at 2.20pm.
On Wednesday, kayaker Max Brown starts his campaign in the double 1000m at 1.54pm.