Tasmanian rower Sarah Hawe has explained her adjustment from the women's four to eight as she seeks to transfer world championship success onto the Olympic stage.
Hawe, who turns 34 on the day of the Opening Ceremony, won two gold medals and a silver from three world championship campaigns, plus five world cup triumphs as a member of Australia's dominant women's four, but missed out on making the crew for Tokyo.
Instead, Hawe is a member of the eight, which begins its campaign on the city's Sea Forest Waterway on Sunday with the occupant of the five seat determined to add to her impressive medal haul.
"It was based on results at selections in March with the four being prioritised and I did not perform as well as I would have hoped," she said. "Initially, I was disappointed not to be in the four but then I put that aside and focused on working with what I had because there is still an opportunity to get an Olympic gold medal and I can work with others to make the boat go as fast as we can."
Hawe, who was born in Melbourne but has moved to Tasmania and rows with Huon RC, said there were significant differences to the dynamic of the boats.
"In the eight, the boat itself is a lot heavier and slower to get up to speed but then a lot harder to slow down. When you first get in, it feels like it's a sprint for the entire race but the more we've done, the more I've learned there is more rhythm to it," she said.
"The boat feels different. It's heavier and definitely noisier. There's more talk in the eight, especially having the coxswain but also with all the other athletes geeing each other up rather than having just one making all the calls in a four."
With so little international competition since COVID hit, Hawe said it was difficult to assess form in the event but was sure of one thing.
"It's extremely competitive," she said. "Looking back at the 2019 world championships, it was Australia and New Zealand vying for the gold and New Zealand had the edge.
"Having had no international competition since then, it's really hard to gauge so a bit of an unknown and we'll just trust our training.
Only time will tell for how much longer Scott Brennan remains Tasmania's last Olympic champion.— Rob Shaw (@TheShawThing) July 20, 2021
Good luck to 11 Tasmanians on @AUSOlympicTeam@Tokyo2020@BakerGeorgia@richie_porte@JakeBirtwhistle@eddieockenden@Stewy_mac3@ChrisGoulding43@joshbeltzhttps://t.co/fS4qcBMYCX
"Normally, there are three world cup regattas each year but they are all in Europe and we've not been a part of any."
Six of the Australian crew (Bronwyn Cox, Annabelle McIntyre, Georgina Rowe, Rosemary Popa, Jessica Morrison and Molly Goodman) which finished 2.72 seconds behind New Zealand in the 2019 final at Linz-Ottensheim in Austria, have also made the Olympic team.
Having not made a senior Australian team until she was 29, Hawe brings a mature, level-headed approach to the upcoming challenge.
"At the end of the day, what others do makes no difference to what we're doing in our lane," she said.
"It's not like a tennis match where you can work with or against your opponent. We've just got to focus on our game."
Hobart duo Eddie Ockenden and Josh Beltz will get their Olympic campaigns underway at 10.30am on Saturday (AEST) when the gold medal favourite Kookaburras begin their campaign against host nation Japan.
While it is a maiden Olympic Games for 26-year-old Beltz, it is a fourth for Australia's co-captain and most-capped hockey player.
And the 34-year-old multiple World Cup, World League, Champions Trophy and Commonwealth Games winner is focused on the only unticked box in his illustrious career after two bronze medals and a sixth-placed finish from his previous three Olympic campaigns.
"We are feeling really good," Ockenden said.
"We've had great preparation for the last week in Darwin before we headed to Tokyo. We play Japan in the opening game so it feels like we have been waiting for this game for a long time.
"There's a great level of excitement for the coming weeks. We will make the best of our opportunity and take on the challenge ahead."
The father-of-two, who played for North West Graduates before relocating to Perth, even had the honour of being named "one to watch" in the official Tokyo 2020 hockey media kit.
It said: "One of the undisputed greats of Australian hockey, Eddie Ockenden rarely puts a foot wrong no matter where on the field he is deployed."
Ockenden has amassed a record 372 Kookaburras appearances, scoring 71 goals in the process. The team also faces India (Sunday 7.30pm) Argentina (July 27, 10.30am), New Zealand (July 28, 10.15pm) and Spain (July 30, 11am) in its pool.