In July, Robbie Manson was on top of the rowing world.
He had just destroyed the field at the final World Cup of the season in Lucerne, and even better, he had beaten two-time Olympic Champion Mahe Drysdale, in emphatic fashion, to become New Zealand's single sculler at the World Championships in September.
"I went into [the World Championships] training harder than I ever have in my life," Manson said.
Admitting he was more confident than he was even for the World Cups.
Bulgaria was to be his moment of redemption, one year on from his heart-breaking finish at the Championships in Florida the year before.
Injured for most of the 2017 season, Manson failed to fire in the final and finished fifth. So this year around Manson didn't want to be "underdone."
But it was that fear of failure which, in the end, failed him.
"I had the mind-set that I was just going to out-train everyone, which is essentially what I did, and then I just went into [the World Championships in Bulgaria] flat."
Manson again placed fifth and he admits his dream of racing the single at the Tokyo Olympics in2020 suddenly felt far-fetched.
"It took a while to reflect on that and get over it," he admits.
"I feel like I've done it so many times as well, it definitely makes you think about why you're doing it and if you want to put yourself through that all over again."
Manson let his social media accounts take a back seat, saying it was a healthy break from the constant stream of competitors celebrating with their medals.
He also took a short break from the sport, and spent a few weeks racing for charity in America, all while spreading awareness about mental health.
"When I was younger I used to think athletes were perfect and I wanted to be an elite athlete they've all got no problems." Manson laughs.
Manson knows that's far from the case and he's using his platform to help spread the message that if you're struggling, you're not alone.
It's this work which has ultimately become the driving force behind his journey to Tokyo.
And there's no question about his desire to bounce back and represent New Zealand at the highest level.
"You just pick yourself back up and do it all over again," Manson laughs.
Now it's about finding the right balance, and he believes the answer could lie in that magic race Lucerne.
"It was 'D-Day' and I performed so I take a lot of confidence from that It's not about re-writing the whole book it's just about tweaking a few things."
Manson hoping his toughest days in the sport are lessons learned on his quest for Olympic gold.