Tokyo Olympics 2020: 12 New Zealand athletes who could miss rescheduled Games

Postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games has been met with worldwide praise.

After weeks of resistance, the International Olympic Committee finally gave in to public pressure and the threat of boycotts, making the sensible decision to delay in the face of coronavirus.

But for some Kiwi athletes, another 12 months of training, preparation, stress, qualification requirements and financial uncertainty may prove too high a hurdle.

On Wednesday, NZ Olympic Committee chief executive Kerryn Smith warned The AM Show that the decision to delay the Games may make some reconsider their goals.

"I'm not sure we've quite got to that point, because your focus is solely on being in the form of your life for July/August 2020," Smith noted.

"That's what people have been mindful of and working towards, probably for 10-12 years now. 

"I'm sure it will have a significant impact on some of the more senior athletes, although they're seasoned and know what it takes to peak."

Here are some that may be soul-searching over the next few weeks, as they contemplate their futures.

Hamish Bond

Hamish Bond
Hamish Bond Photo credit: Getty

Thirty-four-year-old Bond is one of New Zealand's greatest-ever Olympians.

Along with Eric Murray, he went undefeated over the course of two Olympic rowing regattas, crushing their rivals along the way. Murray's 2016 retirement had his sidekick seeking new challenges, which saw Bond switch to road cycling at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games two years later, winning bronze in the men's time trial. 

Returning to the boat, he joined forces with Mahe Drysdale as part of the NZ eight, which faced a last-chance effort to qualify their boat. 

Currently, Bond hasn't fully declared his Olympic intentions. In 12 months, he could conceivably contest either sport - or neither. 

Mahe Drysdale

Mahe Drysdale
Mahe Drysdale Photo credit: Getty

Although his selection was not yet assured, Drysdale was widely expected to fill the single-sculls seat qualified by rival Robbie Manson at last year's world championships.

The defending Olympic solo champion only switched attention back to his favoured boat, after a failed stint in the men's eight. As recently as last month, Drysdale was hammered by Manson at the national championships.

With Manson turning his attention to doubles skulls, selectors seemed confident the master could time his run for August. 

But Drysdale will be 42 in November and despite a stellar record that includes two Olympic golds and five world titles, Wednesday's announcement may have shattered his dreams of an Olympic swansong.

Shea McAleese

Shea McAleese in action
Shea McAleese in action Photo credit: Getty

At age 35, with an incredible 310 caps to his name over 15 years, the Black Sticks men's vice-captain is closer to the end of his career than the start.

McAleese was an integral part of the team's successful qualification for Tokyo, which culminated in a series victory over Korea in November.

The 2020 Olympic campaign would have been his third and the perfect end to a glittering career for the defensive midfielder, but 12 more months might be too long for the two-time Commonwealth Games silver medallist.

Tim Mikkelson

Tim Mikkelson
Tim Mikkelson Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand's most capped rugby sevens player has been a fixture in the side since 2011.

The 2013 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year is also the skipper of a new-look side that is slowly repairing the damage of the horrors of Rio four years ago.

Mikkelson has two successful Commonwealth Games campaigns and is a multiple winner of the IRB World Series, but sevens is an evolving game and there may be questions around how much life is left in the 33-year-old's legs.

Dame Valerie Adams 

Dame Valerie Adams
Dame Valerie Adams Photo credit: Getty

No doubt Dame Val may actually benefit from an extra 12 months preparation, but the bigger question looms over her motivation.

As a mother to two young girls, Adams' priorities have shifted from gold medals to motherhood. Her hunger to be the greatest female shot put thrower of all time has driven her to one of the most decorated CV's in NZ sporting history.

Three Olympic medals (two gold, one silver), four world outdoor titles, four more indoors and five straight Commonwealth Games medals, including three golds... 

The 35-year-old has done it all in an event that, until she arrived, hadn't brought much success to New Zealand. 

Adams hadn't hit vintage form in the build-up to Tokyo, so the delay may give her the time to reassess.

Nick Willis 

Nick Willis
Nick Willis Photo credit: Getty

At age 36, the 2006 Commonwealth champion was already considering retirement, so another year of physical hardship might not seem too appealing.

Willis has nothing more to prove. Undoubtedly one of the top middle-distance runners New Zealand has ever produced, he has completed cleanly at the highest level for nearly 20 years.

His list of accomplishments is highlighted by an Olympic silver (2008) that should have been gold, after runners ahead of him were banned as drugs cheats. In arguably his greatest performance, Willis claimed bronze four years ago at Rio.

Willis also scored back-to-back Commonwealth bronze medals in 2012 and 2016.

The Kiwi runner still hadn't achieved the Tokyo qualifying standard (3m 39.40s), instead relying on his IAAF ranking of 29th for entry into a 45-strong field.

Mika Vukona

Mika Vukona
Mika Vukona Photo credit: Photosport

This year was probably pencilled in as Vukona's last in international basketball. 

The 37-year-old has been an unsung Tall Blacks hero for almost 20 years, after playing for the NZ Breakers in their very first game. 

The New Zealand men haven't yet qualified for Tokyo - they must win a last chance tournament originally scheduled for May. 

Coach Pero Cameron will likely leave a spot open for his veteran forward, but Vukona's window of opportunity may have closed.

David Nyika

David Nyika
David Nyika Photo credit: Photosport

While the 24-year-old continues to chase his Olympic dream, the lure of big money in the professional ranks remains for Nyika.

A year is a long time in sport, especially in combat sports, and the two-time Commonwealth Games champion is undoubtedly one of the hottest properties in amateur ranks.

Nyika has movie-star looks and his boxing ability sees him ranked as one of the world's very best amateur heavyweights.

The Olympics have always been a priority for the Kiwi, who recently qualified for Tokyo, claiming silver in a pre-Games tournament, after missing out on Rio 2016. 

But who knows - the almighty dollar has a history of changing people's minds. 

Andrea Hewitt 

Andrea Hewitt
Andrea Hewitt Photo credit: Getty

An undoubted stalwart of New Zealand triathlon, Hewitt, 37, had eyed Tokyo as her final event. The two-time Commonwealth bronze medallist has been a consistent performer on the international circuit for 15 years, but the former youth world champion has struggled for results in recent years and the prospect of another 12 months of hard slog may be beyond her ambition.

Peter Burling/Blair Tuke

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke Photo credit: Photosport

With rescheduled dates of the Tokyo Olympics still not confirmed, our star sailors may well find themselves double-booked.

The reigning 49er champions have juggled Olympic and America's Cup (and ocean-racing) aspirations over recent years, but with Team NZ's defence of the Auld Mug timed for March 2021, balancing those demands may prove far more difficult.

Under those circumstances, you would think the Cup takes priority.

Gemma McCaw

Gemma McCaw in action
Gemma McCaw in action Photo credit: Photosport

One half of New Zealand sport's royal couple, the Black Sticks star returned to hockey late last year, hoping to win an Olympic medal with a very talented women's side. 

While husband (and former All Blacks captain) Richie appears to be revelling in his role as a 'soccer dad', McCaw's quest has suffered a major roadblock.

At only 29, age isn't the issue, but given she has already contested three Olympics across her career, another year may see her park the car on her fourth.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz