Big Dan overcomes mind games to set sail for Tokyo

NSW’s Dan Repacholi was staring down the gun barrel of missing selection for a fifth Olympic Games before recovering to win the men’s 10m Air Pistol in the last Tokyo Games nomination event at the Sydney International Shooting Centre today.

The big, burly athlete from NSW’s Hunter Valley faced the prospect of being the first athlete eliminated in the nomination event final after the first 10 of 24 shots, while his Olympic team selection rival, Bailey Groves, topped the early scoring chart.

But in a stunning form reversal, Repacholi slowly climbed up the scoreboard while Groves capitulated and was placed fourth.

Repacholi eventually scored 235.1 points to comfortably defeat Western Australia’s Scott Anderson (227.9) and Victoria’s Sergei Evglevski (210.9).

“I knew what Bailey had to do and I knew what I had to do. I knew that if I didn’t finish last, then everything will be ok,” said Repacholi.

“If Bailey won and I finished last, then we would have been tied on the nomination scoreboard,” he said.

Repacholi lamented how he began the final and said he was concentrating more on Groves’ performance than his own.

“I started horrendously. My first 10 shots were terrible. I then stopped worrying about what everyone else was doing and just focused on one shot at a time,” he said.

Repacholi said he will use the time between now and the Games, scheduled for July, focusing on the mental aspects of his shooting.

“Physically, I know I can shoot tens every time, but I need to work on my mental capability,” he explained.

In the women’s 10m Air Pistol final, Victoria’s Elena Galiabovitch secured her second event victory in the nomination series.

Galiabovitch trailed Queensland’s Dina Aspandiyarova by 0.9 points with two shots remaining but stormed over the top to eventually tally 235.5 points to defeat Aspandiyarova (233.1) with NSW’s Dannielle Moleman (210.7) placed third.

Despite being placed second, Aspandiyarova seems certain to claim Australia’s Olympic quota position for the event as she topped the event nomination table by 21 points.

It will be Aspandiyarova’s fourth Olympic Games having represented Australia at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, and at the 2000 Sydney Olympics for her native Kazakhstan.

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