Olympic dreams will be in their sights when Cessnock Pistol Club members Dan Repacholi and Blake Blackburn take aim at Rio.
Repacholi , or "Big Dan" as the 202cm tall, 34-year-old coal mining father of two from Nulkaba is known, will compete in the 10 metre air pistol on August 6, day one of the Games, and the 50m pistol three days later.
Twenty-three-year-old Blackburn, a former Mount View High School student, will contest the 10 metre air pistol event on August 6.
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Cessnock Pistol Club president Lee Scott said it was fantastic the Hunter had not one but two locals in with a medal chance at this year’s Games.
“We’re very proud. and I think a lot of it can be put down to good coaching and first-class facilities,” Mr Scott said. “Blake’s been exposed to top class mentors both here in Cessnock and at state level.
“Dan started out in Victoria under the tutelage of coach Vladimir Galiabovitch, who’s taking them over to Rio, and has been under his wing most of his shooting career.”
Repacholi moved to the Hunter about five years ago to take up a job at Mount Thorley and has been able to tap into the facilities at Cessnock Pistol Club.
”Cessnock has one of the best set-ups in the state and is one of only three pistol clubs capable of hosting state championships, which it has done in 2009, 2012 and 2014,” Mr Scott said.
“Both Blake and Dan were knocking off seniors in competition while still juniors so it was clear they were good.
“But it takes a lot of hard work to develop the talent.
“Shooting is a very disciplined sport. Consistency and concentration are key. You’ve to got to have that ‘off’ switch and be able to concentrate on what’s in front of you.”
Rio will be Repacholi’s fourth Olympics, having made his Olympic debut at Athens (2004), before going on to compete at Beijing (2008) and London (2012) where he secured his best Games results to date, finishing 19th in the 50m air pistol and 28th in the 10m.
He won individual gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the 10m air pistol and bronze in the 50m air pistol.
Blake’s journey started age 12 shooting with his grandparents.
He secured his first senior national title when he won the 10m air pistol event in Cessnock in 2014 to gain selection on his first Commonwealth Games Team for Glasgow. He won his first Continental Championship in 2015.
Lee has high hopes for both at Rio.
“They’ve shot very well at international events and they’re ranked in top 50,” he said. “I think they are in with good chances.”
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