Whanganui man Max Brown and team mate Kurtis Imrie are competing in the Olympic Games in Tokyo in a few days' time.
As kayakers, they will compete in the K2 1000m Sprint. But it will be a very different race this year.
Last Thursday, Max and Kurtis left New Zealand for Tokyo via Singapore.
The original plan was for family to attend, says Jenny Brown, Max's mum. There would have been her and her husband Peter and Peter's parents, too, all watching the race on site in Tokyo, but Covid-19 has put a stop to it.
"It was going to be a lovely big event to celebrate this milestone," she says. "But that all changed. It was surreal to think that this big event that was happening in Max's life and in our lives — expecting we would be there to celebrate — to have it swept out from under your feet in a momentous way. It was very sad and very strange to think that something as massive as a pandemic would prevent that from happening."
She says being safe in New Zealand helped them, in some measure, to get over the disappointment.
"We felt so grateful that we could get on with our lives and that their training could continue. So, mixed feelings. The world hadn't stopped for us, but it had obviously stopped for a lot of people overseas."
Jenny says Max and Kurtis have been trying to acclimatise to higher temperatures before heading to a brutal Northern Hemisphere summer.
"Coming from a cold winter and stepping into the heat will be a shock," says Jenny. One of the reasons they left for Tokyo early was to allow themselves time to adapt.
"They head to a place called Komatsu, where they will isolate, and when they're out of isolation they will be training there. At some point they will be moved to Tokyo."
Jenny says information out of Japan is constantly changing so they don't really know what's happening or where they'll be before or during the games.
As a family, they're coping well.
"You work through that disappointment from a year ago when the games were postponed, and when you realise you can't change it, everything goes on hold until more information comes through.
When the Olympics were put on hold, Max and Kurtis hadn't been officially named as the pair to represent New Zealand, so they had to re-trial for the two places they had anticipated they were getting. That was tough, going through the process for a second time, competing against their team mates.
"They had to maintain their fitness, but with sport it's also about the mental game, having to cope with the pressures. This year has taught them that things go wrong and you can't change what is out of your control, but you have to learn to work with it. That's what this last year has been about.
"Max had said to us when he was about 16 or 17 that one day he'd like to go to The Olympics.
"As his mother, I couldn't ever imagine that one day he would achieve that ambitious goal. It seemed way beyond reach, but Max has always set himself goals to try and tick off. It's never been easy and there have been many, many times that it seemed he wouldn't reach the Olympic dream. But he persevered again and again.
"So to not be able to go to Tokyo to watch him achieve that goal, has been really hard. That would be a parent's dream. I guess it remains an elusive dream, to be there in the crowd, but at least a boy from Whanganui gets to race amongst the best in the world.
"Pretty cool really."
Max and Kurtis are due back in Christchurch in early August where they will self-isolate before coming home.