Tokyo Olympics: 'I never thought it was over' - Kiwi sailor Erica Dawson completes miracle comeback from broken leg

They're one of our big medal hopes in Tokyo, but for one member of our sailing team it's an Olympics that almost came crashing down four weeks ago.

Erica Dawson broke her leg when the harness holding her into her boat snapped sending her overboard and into hospital.

"My trapeze line that I was hanging off on the boat snapped," Dawson tells Newshub.

"So I ended up right in the path of the rudder, and got smacked by the rudder." 

That resulted in a broken leg, Dawson was straight to hospital, and her Olympic dream hung by a thread.

But fast forward four weeks and she's made a recovery that borders on unthinkable - because missing the Tokyo Olympics was simply not an option. 

"When I first heard 'this is broken,' I thought straight away 'this is not good.'

"But I never thought it was over, that was never gonna happen for me. I was always going to be there." 

Teammate Michah Wilkinson is as relieved as he is surprised to see Dawson ready to line up alongside him.

"I couldn't believe it," he says. "To have her a week out from competition on the boat, and we're basically doing our normal warm-up routine. It's exciting."

While it's a near miracle they'll compete, topping it off with a medal would complete it.

The sailing haul is widely expected to again be led by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.

While the pair might carry the weight of expectation, it's the sports' biggest stage where they know they can get the best out of themselves. 

"That's something that as an athlete you should really enjoy," Burling tells Newshub.

"You don't get opportunities like this very often, to compete on the world's biggest stage at the Olympics." 

Compete, yes. But there's only one colour on the minds of Burling and Tuke. 

Gold in Enoshima would cap an already remarkable 2021 that began with their America's Cup defence.

"It's what we've always enjoyed," adds Tuke.

"When you know you really have to put it down when, as Pete said, you're racing on the biggest stage for an Olympic gold medal." 

Few would bet against them comfortably doing that.