Daniel Repacholi: Five Olympic Games and one golden goal
At London 2012, shooter
When asked if competing at five Olympic Games was always part of the plan, Repacholi says, ‘definitely not.’
“I actually retired after London 2012, I was finished,” he said.
“I wanted to focus on being a better husband, a better father and I wanted to be around for my family more.”
Although Repacholi found much success throughout his 20-year shooting career, winning Commonwealth Games gold and bronze, it was always Olympic gold that had eluded him.
Repacholi will have his chance at Tokyo 2020 next year, when he contests the 10m Air Pistol event and is in good stead after taking out three out of four Australian Air Pistol Selection Events.
“My ultimate goal had always been to win an Olympic gold medal, but I hadn’t achieved that when I retired,” he explained.
“My wife knew I wasn’t done until I’d won Olympic gold, so she encouraged me to keep going so I could achieve that dream.
"My family has always been supportive, and nothing has ever been an issue when it comes to my shooting and my daughters know that sometimes I'm there and sometimes I'm not, but I make sure they are always involved."
Although wanting to put his wife and daughters first was the catalyst for Repacholi wanting to retire, they now play an important role in his shooting career. Along with acting as support crew, his daughters Zoe (6) and Asha (4) are also his fashion advisors.
“I let my girls choose my socks before I compete, and that keeps them happy and involved,” he said.
“It’s usually either rainbows, pink unicorns, suns or a pair with fat hippos that say, ‘dad bod.’
Repacholi says it’s the pink unicorns that draw the most attention when worn by the 6 ft 8-inch sharpshooter.
Times have definitely changed for the now 37-year-old, who made his Olympic debut as a fresh-faced 22-year-old at Athens 2004 and recalls being in the Olympic Village Dining Hall as the most eye-opening experience.
“At my first Games, I was in awe. It was an incredible experience” he said.
“Seeing people like Grant Hackett and Lauren Jackson was pretty amazing and we had Peter Brock as our mentor.
“The Olympic Games is like a different universe, where you’re surrounded by the best athletes in the world. They are all together in the one place and that never happens, it’s pretty special.
“The dining hall was the most outrageous thing you’ve ever seen, that was a really eye-opening experience for me,” he shared.
“When you think of an Olympian, you think of someone who is ripped and fit with the body of Adonis but sitting there in the dining hall you see people of all different shapes and sizes.
“Something that a lot of people don’t realise is that there is a shape for every sport,” he said.
Sixteen years later, Repacholi says the biggest change for him between Athens 2004 and Tokyo 2020, is his mindset.
“Physically, I could shoot that perfect shot every time, but my mental game was what I struggled with most,” he explained.
“When you're younger, it’s not that you can’t do it, it's just harder. When you’re younger, you don’t have a care in the world, so you’re less focused but as I got a little bit older, I became more switched on and that really changed my mindset.
“I’m a lot more focused on achieving my goals and a lot more dedicated to working on my psychological training.
“It used to always just be train, train, train and the harder you train, the better you'll be, which is right, but you also need to work on your mental approach, because if you haven't got it together mentally, you're never going to be at your best physically.”
What he is most looking forward to during his fifth Olympic experience all comes back to the podium.
“Going to Tokyo will be a really amazing experience, mostly for the fact that I am planning on coming back with a gold medal,” he said.
“That will be the highlight. I'm training and working towards being on that podium. I don't want to just go to have a holiday, because I would rather just have a holiday with my family.
“Saying you’ve been to five Olympic Games is great, but saying you’ve won an Olympic gold medal is even better, so that’s the goal and that makes the sacrifices all worth it.”