Two Cessnock Pistol Club shooters have been named in the Australian team for this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Nulkaba’s Daniel Repacholi will contest his fourth Olympic Games while Blake Blackburn, of Bellbird will make his Olympic debut in Brazil.
Repacholi, 33, says he is in good form leading up to the Games and has his sights firmly set on the gold medal.
“It’s a great feeling being selected, just to know that everything I’ve done, all the sacrifices I’ve made to make the team was worth it,” he said.
“Winning has got to be the goal from here on in.
“I know I’ve got what it takes.”
Repacholi won gold in the 10-metre air pistol at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and bronze in the 50-metre event.
He will contest the same events at the Rio Games, having won gold in both at the Australia Cup 1 and 2 in February and March.
Repacholi made his Olympic debut in Athens in 2004 and has competed at each Games since, with his best results in London in 2012 (19th in the 50-metre and 28th in the 10-metre).
The father-of-two, who works as a truck driver at Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorley Warkworth mine, has a busy schedule in the lead up to the Olympic Games.
He will fly out to Brazil on Saturday for a World Cup event at the same venue the Rio Games will be held.
He will also travel to World Cup events in Germany in May and Azerbaijan in June, followed by a training camp in Europe and another in Sydney in July.
Between trips to Brazil and Germany, Repacholi will be back in the Hunter Valley for a few weeks and will train with Blackburn at the Cessnock club.
“It’s great to have two people from Cessnock Pistol Club shooting together at the Olympics,” Repacholi said.
“It’s great for any town to have two people on the Olympic team, let alone a small town of 50,000 people.”
Blackburn, 23, got one-up on his mentor when he beat Repacholi for the gold in the 10-metre air pistol at the Oceania Continental Championships in December.
He also won gold at the Shooting Australia Grand Prix last year, and improved his score at each of his Olympic selection events.
“I’m exactly where I thought I would be,” he said.
Blackburn finished 14th at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and is thrilled to be selected for his first Olympics.
“It’s pretty good, I’m just trying to soak it up as much as I can,” he said.
Blackburn works as a bartender at Potters Brewery and is studying psychology at the University of Newcastle.
He said he’ll be training as much as he can with “the big man” (Repacholi, who stands 202 cm tall).
“It’s his fourth Olympics, he has a lot of knowledge, he’s a good mentor,” Blackburn said.
“He definitely helped me get through the selections.”
Sixteen shooters were named in the Australian Olympic Team at the selection event in Sydney on Friday, bringing the Australian team to 85 athletes from seven sports.
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