Monday marks the biggest day in the career of Gisborne-born triathlete Tayler Reid as he lines up for the men’s Olympic event.
The New Zealander is also competing in the mixed triathlon, looking to build on his bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Next week’s milestone is a long time coming for the 24-year-old, who fell in love with the sport at a young age.
"When I was 11, my mum and step dad are paramedics and they took an ambulance to be fixed in Hamilton and the national triathlon was on," Reid said.
"We decided to give it a crack. I borrowed a bike so I could go do that and I rocked up to that and ended up winning the nationals in my first triathlon.
"I thought I was pretty good at that, did no training, came back the next year and gave it another crack and got my arse smoked, decided I needed to train if I wanted to be good at it," he said.
With dreams of wanting to be an Olympian since he was a child, Reid made the decision to pursue triathlons further when he was 14.
His dedication to the sport has only grown from there, and has now seen him rewarded with a ticket to the Olympics.
"He was really emotional about it, he was in tears when he told us, he was so happy," his mother Jackie Clapperton said.
"It was a dream come true."
But his tears have quickly turned into pools of sweat.
Reid has been based in Cairns, Australia, in the lead up to the Tokyo games, conditioning himself for the 30-plus degree heat and humidity which awaits him in Japan.
"We’ve got a bathroom out the back, we chuck the heater on for a couple of hours then get on the bike, it's pretty nasty."
"I also got all my hair chopped off today. I haven’t had a hair cut in two years, it was down to my shoulders," he said.
"Yeah makes me more aerodynamic and lets the heat come off my head."
Also helping him on his journey, his relationship with the ocean and surf lifesaving, galvanised by his newfound connection to Ngāti Kahungunu and Gisborne.
His father said their whakapapa helped guide the triathlete.
"Some of the strong Māori values have helped Tayler get to where he is today, strong family bonds and social connection to this region," Andrew Reid said.
"He's always proud to represent Gizzy."
Having to relocate to Cambridge for training has made Reid long for his hometown even more.
"The ocean is huge part of my entire life to not have that in Cambridge is hard, it makes me home sick.
"From Gizzy it's five minutes down the road," he said.
So, come Monday when he lines up against the world's best, he'll be representing not just New Zealand, but Gisborne too.
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