For those who will make their debut at the Tokyo Olympics, those dreams have had to be reshaped.

First came the delay - the news that after four years of hard work and striving to be their best, they would have to wait another year. There was uncertainty about whether the Games would be held at all. 

For UNSW Arts/Law student Amy Ridge, the prospect of a cancellation was not one she wanted to entertain at all.

“When I made my debut (for Australia) in 2017, I got a taste for what it was like to wear the green and gold and I think it was at that moment I really started to think about Tokyo. This has been my life for four years, my dream,” Ridge said. “The Tokyo Olympics will be the pinnacle of all our careers. If it was cancelled, I’d be heartbroken.”

Fortunately for Ridge and her Australian teammates, it was postponed and their long preparations continued. Mid-2020 involved training in isolation and dealing with the disappointment of the postponement before training and competition began to return to some semblance of normality.

UNSW Arts/Business student and Australian Men's Water Polo team member Tim Putt did his best to remain focused throughout the last year.

“I've just been taking the news as it comes really and not overthinking it,” he said. “It was a blow for the Olympics to be postponed but I've been in a really positive headspace about it and just taking it as if the Olympics was actually supposed to be next year and staying completely focused on it.”

Putt's teammate and UNSW Master of Commerce student Nathan Power should be embarking on his second Games, but instead he is also making his Olympic debut in Tokyo. He was selected in the Australian team for Rio 2016, however he suffered an injury shortly before the Games began that ruled him out of the competition.

The wait could have been even more painful for Power, considering how long he has been preparing for his debut, but like Putt he remained positive.

“At the end of the day the Olympics haven’t been taken away from us, they have just been moved, so personally there hasn’t been any great mental hurdle to get over,” he said. “One positive is that I’ve been able to spend some quality time at home with family and friends which I’ve lacked the last few years.”

While it has been quite a journey to get there, all three UNSW Elite Athlete Program members are ready for whatever Tokyo throws at them, showcasing the resilient UNSW spirit on the world stage.

To support Amy from home, here's when to tune into her games:

  • Saturday 24 July, 3pm AEST: Australia v Canada
  • Monday 26 July, 7:20pm AEST: Australia v Netherlands
  • Friday 30 July, 7:20pm AEST: Australia v Spain
  • Sunday 1 August, 7:20pm AEST: Australia v South Africa

To support Tim and Nathan from home, here's when to tune into their games:

  • Sunday 25 July, 3pm AEST: Australia v Montenegro
  • Tuesday 27 July, 7:20pm AEST: Australia v Croatia
  • Thursday 29 July, 7:20pm AEST: Australia v Serbia
  • Saturday 31 July, 11am AEST: Australia v Spain
  • Monday 2 August, 7:20pm AEST: Australia v Kazakhstan