The bleakest times can set the backdrop for the most unlikely superhero.
Days out from an Olympic Games like no other, the world grapples with the ongoing COVID-19 fallout, as the Illawarra joins most of the eastern seaboard of Australia in lockdown.
The anxiety among health officials, newspaper columnists and the general public remains as to whether the Tokyo show should even proceed at all and it's only heightened when Australian tennis player Alex De Minaur withdrew, after contracting the virus since leaving the Wimbledon bubble.
Yet for all the doom and gloom, golden glory beckons for Olympians like Emma McKeon, possibly the most unassuming star in Australian sport.
Reserved by nature, McKeon has never been the next Nicole Livingstone or Susie O'Neill like Australian teammate Cate Campbell became, as a swimming spearhead and public figure.
McKeon has stood at the top of the Olympic dais after leading out the extraordinary 4x100m in Rio now five years ago.
But her best individual swim in Brazil captured bronze in the 200m freestyle final - an event she has dropped from her program in Tokyo - when she produced a scorching swim to finish behind two of the modern greats in Katie Ledecky and Sarah Sjostrom.
The disappointment of missing a medal in the 100m butterfly final is long behind her so, too, the drama of breaking Australian Olympic Committee-imposed curfew protocols before the Rio closing ceremony.
Now, her time has come.
McKeon took sanctuary in Cairns this week, relatively safe from the COVID threat, having set the pool alight in the past 12 months.
She set a sizzling 52.19 seconds in the 100m freestyle at the Australian trials, beating Campbell with the eighth fastest time in history.
Any doubt McKeon lacks the killer instinct, or is too versatile for her own benefit at the elite level, is gone.
Victory in Tokyo will put her alongside Australia's best swimmers and ensure a legacy as one of the Illawarra's greatest ever athletes.
A new feature sprint race has offered a spicy element to Kembla Grange's $1 million The Gong in November.
The race will provide a tantalising entree to the mile main course - won by Archdemus last year, after Chris Waller's Mister Sea Wolf took out the inaugural event.
Read more: Ogilvy back and bent on finals redemption
It was part of another major boost to the Sydney spring schedule, when Racing NSW announced the $2 million "The Invitation", for fillies and mares over 1400m at Randwick in October.
The George Main and Hill Stakes prize money doubles to $1 million, while Newcastle's The Hunter will be complemented by a $300,000 staying race over 2300m.