Tokyo Olympics: Gold medal expectations 'just the norm' for Peter Burling and Blair Tuke

Expectation isn't weighing on Kiwi sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke as they bid to defend their Olympic gold medal at the upcoming Tokyo Games.

Five years on from their emphatic victory in the 49er class at the Rio de Janeiro games - winning gold by 43 points - Burling and Tuke will be regarded as favourites to defend their title at Enoshima Yacht Harbour.

Already well known to world sailing when they won gold in Rio, Burling and Tuke have only added to their legacy in the years since, winning the America's Cup twice with Emirates Team New Zealand and competing in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Speaking to Newshub ahead of the start of the men's 49er regatta on July 27, Burling and Tuke say that they're more than comfortable living with the expectation placed firmly on their shoulders.

"I think we've got pretty well practiced at it now," says Burling. "It's just the norm to be honest. We really enjoy these big stages, having to compete when there is a bit of pressure, a lot on the line.

"That's something that as an athlete you should really enjoy. You don't get opportunities like this very often - to compete on the world's biggest sporting stage at the Olympic Games.

"You've just got to enjoy every moment of it, and make sure you're doing everything you can to get the best result possible."

Tuke says they've always relished the chance to perform at the highest level.

"When you're racing at the Olympic Games, racing for a gold medal, it doesn't get any bigger than that. That's what we've always enjoyed, and the feeling's exactly the same this time around.

"It's a huge challenge in front of us, and we're right up for it."

The only hiccup could come from having to switch back to the 49er class where they made their name, having spent the better part of the past year in Team NZ's AC75, in which they successfully defended the America's Cup on home waters.

Tuke though, assures that the pair have had enough practice in shifting between classes, and have had more than adequate preparation for the defence of their Rio gold in Tokyo.

"It always takes a little bit of time, but we're pretty lucky that we've switched back and forth from sailing different boats over the last few years," Tuke.

"We're also lucky that we've got a really good crew back in New Zealand, a good fleet there, that kept on pushing hard right through the last year and the start of this year.

"That helped us get back on the pace quicker, and then a couple of trips overseas - one up to Spain and one over to the Sunshine Coast in Aussie.

"We've been doing a lot of sailing since March, and we're feeling in good shape now. [We've spent] the last couple of days putting the final touches on the campaign, and then putting it down."

Join Newshub for live updates of the Tokyo Olympics from 8pm Thursday.