CESSNOCK shooter Daniel Repacholi has made an earlier-than-expected dash north of the border to avoid any coronavirus lockdowns in the lead up to his fifth Olympics and declares he feels better than ever in pursuit of an elusive Games medal.
Repacholi left home on Friday and relocated to Brisbane, where he'll remain until the Australian shooting team departs for Tokyo next month.
The 39-year-old, who will compete in both the men's 10 metre air pistol and the newly introduced mixed 10m air pistol, says he was largely unfazed by the latest change because the global pandemic has shown "you've got to be adaptable".
However, in the wake of recent COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria and Sydney, Repacholi opted to exit his Hunter base as a precautionary measure and head for the Queensland capital ahead of schedule.
"I got out Friday just in case they closed the border, which they haven't done [yet], but I was worried about the cases in Sydney and what they did to Victoria," Repacholi told the Newcastle Herald.
"So I'm up in Brisbane now and I'm here until I fly out. I was happy to get here."
Repacholi, who has attended four straight Olympics after making his debut 17 years ago, reckons the postponed Games and lack of international competition recently have helped create a "level-playing field" in the race towards the podium in Japan.
"It's been very different not going to any world events in the lead up to this, but I've actually really enjoyed it," he said.
"It's been great spending the time in our own country and although we haven't had the competition where we've shot against the rest of the world, neither has anyone else.
"There's been some shoots but nothing like what we're all used to, so it's pretty much a level-playing field.
"The ones who win gold, silver and bronze are the ones who are the most adaptable to the situation."
Repacholi, a three-time Commonwealth Games champion, dreams of claiming gold at the Olympics and feels the extra time preparing over the last 15 months has been beneficial after booking his ticket to Tokyo at a qualifying event in March last year.
"I've certainly given myself the best opportunity this time," he said.
"I've never been more prepared for an Olympic Games than what I am now."
With the popular 50m air pistol taken off the program after Rio five years ago, Repacholi has two cracks at the same 10m distance.
Following his individual shoot on July 24 he will team up with fellow veteran Dina Aspandiyarova in the mixed pairs three days later.
"It's made it a lot easier to train, having one event [distance] to train for," he said.
Repacholi says his daughters, Zoe and Asha, are yet to select his famed competition socks but knows "it'll be some bright colour".
In terms of retirement, which he has done twice before temporarily, Repacholi says Paris in 2024 and future Olympic appearances remain a possibility depending on family circumstances.
"I know that I can win an Olympic medal and I won't be finished until I've done that," he said.
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