Tokyo Olympics: Kiwi hammer thrower's second shot at Olympic glory

The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics came as a bitter blow for a number of athletes around the world, but for Kiwi hammer thrower Lauren Bruce, it's proved to be quite the opposite. 

Bruce hadn't qualified for the Games before the pandemic struck, but intense training during lockdown's now seen her meet the qualifying standard and there's no telling how much improvement can be made before the Games begin.

At the start of the year, she had all but accepted her Olympic dream would have to wait another four years.

"It was like, how can we turn this into an opportunity and get better to make sure that when they do happen, I'm there," Bruce tells Newshub.

Now the 23-year-old has booked her ticket to Japan, after a throw of more than 72.5 metres last weekend.

"It was a weird feeling because I did it on my first throw and it was kind of like, 'that's what we wanted to do,so what do I do now?" she laughs.

Twelve months ago, Bruce was seen as an outsider for qualification and now she's on the brink of medal contention, after setting a new Oceania record of 73.47 metres.

"There's a lot of girls around the world looking at Lauren now and what she's doing," says coach Dale Stevenson.

"She'll certainly be one to watch without a hell of a lot of pressure."

That's because her new personal best would have been good enough for a top-six finish at the last two Olympics, so if she can find another two metres by July, she'll be a genuine medal chance.

"Whatever we're doing now is working, so just keep going with that," says Bruce.

"Even after last weekend, I know there's so much more there right now."

She's in good hands, working under coach Stevenson with training partners Dame Valerie Adams and Tom Walsh, two heavyweights of NZ athletics.

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