Tokyo Olympics 2020: Sharpshooting Black Sticks striker Olivia Merry desperate for gold

Black Sticks striker Olivia Merry couldn't have planned a better season to prepare for next year's Olympics.

15 goals in the 2018 Pro League earned her a nomination for World Player of the Year Award, which will be awarded next month.

You could forgive Merry for taking time to reflect on her incredible year, but the Black Sticks enforcer isn't one to keep her own score. 

"Probably just lucky a lot of the time really," she said. 

"Right place at the right time." 

Humility and luck aside, Merry's statistics speak for themselves.

The 2018 Pro League top scorer is only three short of Anita McLaren's Black Sticks record of 105 goals.

But the 28-year-old has the bigger picture in mind - a medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games. 

"We've had a lot of ups and downs with the team in the past 18 months." 

Those downs include three coaches in 2019 following the resignation of Mark Hager.

Merry feels the fallout from the perceived negative culture of Hager's coaching regime hasn't stifled the team.

She says it's brought them closer, while Graham Shaw's arrival has introduced a voice that's helped her reach her potential.

"She (Merry) just has a real ability to find herself in the right position and she's technically very sound and that allows her to score as many goals as she does," Shaw, New Zealand coach told Newshub.

The platform is now set for New Zealand to achieve something special in Tokyo and go one better than their last to visits to the Olympics.

"The dreaded fourth place - I think it definitely plays on the back of your mind and I think it's driven a lot of players to come back," Merry said.

Including Merry, who has the chance to star in a new Zealand side desperate for gold.