An emotional Sarah Hirini has revealed the personal challenges she has been facing in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics, opening up about the death of her much-loved mum.
The opening ceremony flagbearer and Black Ferns star admitted her mum's loss was still "really raw".
"It's pretty challenging at times not being close to my family and being away from them at such a hard time, but I know that this is where she wants me to be and she was at the last Olympics with me," Hirini told 1 NEWS.
"It's going to be a pretty special time for my family to be able to have something exciting to look forward to."
The 28-year-old is hoping to make her whanau proud by winning a gold medal, the only result the team says they will be satisfied with.
However, they remain focussed on the task at hand, knowing they must go one game at a time to get there.
"Eventually if we do that and we get it right and we go out there and put our heart and soul on the field that will be the product of all our hard work," Tyla Nathan-Wong said.
The Black Ferns open their Olympic campaign against Kenya on Thursday afternoon.
WATCH THE OLYMPICS: TVNZ 1 and TVNZ OnDemand feature 12 hours of free-to-air action focussed on Kiwi athletes each afternoon and evening, while Sky TV has Olympics coverage across 12 channels and streaming platforms.