Tokyo Olympics: Postponement provides second chance to Kiwi stars Emma Cumming, Eliza McCartney

With the Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021, the fairytale finish for some athletes may be over, but the door to a second chance has opened for others.

That rings true for two of our top medal prospects, who are determined not to waste their opportunity at Olympic glory.

This may not quite be the velodrome, but for cyclist Emma Cumming, that doesn't matter.

Merely being back on the bike is an achievement in itself, after a torrid 18 months that left her Olympic dream in tatters.

"It was definitely one of the toughest things I've ever had to deal with, but I think it's definitely grown me as a human," Cumming told Newshub. 

"It's made me really realise how much I do love this and how lucky I am to say that I ride a bike for a living."

And now she can do it again. After being sidelined for seven months last year with a hip injury, her comeback hit a snag, reaggravating the injury to leave her with a race against time to make it to Tokyo.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the Games to be postponed, Cumming's Olympic dream breathes a new life.

Emma Cumming & Natasha Hansen celebrate silver medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games
Emma Cumming & Natasha Hansen celebrate silver medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Photo credit: Photosport

"It is a second chance, but at the end of the day, I still have to be good enough and whether I can do that in 16 months, I guess I'll have to wait and see."

That's a feeling shared by one of the success stories from Rio four years ago.

Eliza McCartney knows the brutal nature of injuries all too well.

Sidelined for most of the past two years with Achilles tendon and hamstring niggles, Tokyo 2020 was no guarantee for the pole-vault bronze medallist.

Eliza McCartney celebrates her Rio Olympic bronze medal
Eliza McCartney celebrates her Rio Olympic bronze medal. Photo credit: Photosport

"It was always going to be a big-time pressure for me to be ready to compete by July," she told Newshub. "It was always going to be hard."

Now McCartney has 15 months to qualify and build the form needed to contest another podium finish.

For Cumming, her fight begins now. New Zealand now has six carded riders in the women's sprint programme.

Only two can line up in the team in Tokyo.

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