It has not been the smoothest of preparations but Lauren Parker remains confident she can secure gold in Tokyo after being named in the Australian paratriathlon team on Monday.
The Newcastle 32-year-old has had her sights set on Paralympic gold since inspiring a nation by producing a bronze medal performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast less than 12 months after being paralysed from the waist down in a freak cycling accident.
Parker then powered to the PTWC world title in September 2019 to declare herself as the Paralympics gold medal favourite before the global coronavirus pandemic forced the postponement of the Tokyo Games for one year.
The determined Novocastrian threw herself into training last year and was in devastating form when she secured third straight paratriathlon racing titles in Newcastle then Devonport in February.
But a skin infection followed by surgery in April that resulted in 20 days in hospital and five weeks of being unable to train threatened to derail Parker's Paralympic dream.
"It's been a long time coming but it's exciting to finally have it announced," Parker told the Newcastle Herald on Monday.
"I've had a few setbacks but I'm back on track and looking forward to representing Australia. I'm definitely not where I was back in March but hopefully I will be in five weeks' time.
"I had cellulitis and a huge lump formed on my leg. I went into surgery to have it cut open and ended up with a deep cut that I'm still having to look after and manage."
But Parker is no stranger to overcoming adversity and said the milestone moment of being named in her first Paralympic team was a proud one.
"I've got a diary that I write in and the other day I was reflecting about all of the setbacks that I've had," Parker said.
"I've overcome a lot, especially this year. I was so stressed going into hospital with the Paralympics not too far away. So overcoming my time in hospital this year and my injury then getting back the fitness and strength that I am now, I feel like that was a big achievement.
"And, obviously overcoming my accident and a lot of other setbacks in surgery. I've reflected a little bit and I'm proud of where I'm at."
Parker had also hoped to represent Australia in hand-cycling events but was not named in the paracycling team last week.
"I just had to get over that and focus on the triathlon that I'm in and then I'll look at doing cycling for the next Olympics as well," she said.
Parker heads to Cairns on Friday to train for the next five weeks until flying to Japan on August 20.
She said COVID-19 outbreaks in the Olympic Games village in the past couple of days had not proven a distraction to her gold medal quest.
"I feel fine about going," Parker said. "I'm not worried about anything. We're in a tight bubble with the Australian team. I've just got that job to do and I just want to get that gold medal. That's my number one goal. So just get there and fingers crossed everything is fine when I get there."
Parker was unsure of what to expect from her rivals in Tokyo after limited racing but has painted her new racing wheelchair gold "as a statement".
"I have no idea how anyone else is going, but they're in the same boat," Parker said. "Some of them have been able to race all over Europe ... but they've got to watch out for me."