SA shooting stars win selection for Tokyo

SA shooting stars win selection for Tokyo

FOUR South Australian-based shooting athletes, including two 18-year-old debutants, have had their Olympic Games’ dreams realised by being selected in the Australian team to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Katarina Kowplos

The SASI athletes Dane Sampson, 33, will line up for his third Olympics, Jack Rossiter, 22, is heading for his second Games, while the only teenagers in the team, Alex Hoberg and Katarina Kowplos, will debut in Tokyo.

Kowplos, who has been involved in the sport for about four years, said her selection in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions was a huge thrill.

“I am so excited. We’ve never had a selection trial like this with everything going on (coronavirus),” Kowplos of Gulfview Heights said.

“This is everything I have striven for. Now it will give me plenty of time to improve and know that I am on the team and just focus on that.’’

Fellow debutant Hoberg, who had the pressure of having to sit part of a Year 12 exam in a hotel in Sydney last year, said he was still floating since the announcement. He excelled in the Men’s 10m Air Rifle selection trials.

“This is a lifelong dream,” Hoberg of Basket Range said.

“I remember watching the 2016 Olympics and said I wanted to do that, I want to be an Olympian. Four years later here I am. I am heading to the Olympics. Now I can just focus on what I need to do. It’s crazy to think I am going.’’

Onkaparinga Hills resident Rossiter has tasted the thrill of an Olympics in 2016 and was relieved to get the nod again, qualifying in the Men’s 50m Air Rifle 3 Positions.

“I’m feeling good because we have a lot of time to prepare for the Games,’’ Rossiter said.

“Of course, it’s uncertain when restrictions will be lifted but I’m hoping to do my best with training at home now so I will be prepared as possible when the time comes.

“Once restrictions are lifted I will do a lot of live shooting with the rest of the team and coaches.’’

For 33-year-old star Sampson, his selection was no surprise with outstanding results in all selection trials, excelling in the men’s 10m Air Rifle. The 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist and antique furniture restorer has long been a constant in Australian teams in shooting events throughout the world

The Queensland-raised and now West Lakes resident, with Olympic experience in 2012 and 2016, said he was looking forward to another campaign and would adopt a calm approach moving forward.

"I am enjoying the fact that I have qualified for my third Olympics,'' Sampson said.

"It always feels good to achieve another of the many goals one sets for oneself. With the knowledge that I will be competing at Tokyo as a more skilled and competitive athlete than I have before makes me excited about what I might achieve when I'm there.

"I am looking forward to competing in another high level competition as I always am. But what I am looking forward to with the Olympics is the atmosphere the the games brings.  I love being in a place with people form all over the world together , enjoying what they are passionate about, with respect for each other and being able to relate through a common goal.

"At the moment while we are still in this isolation situation, I am working hard on my physical preparation.  I am working on whatever weaknesses I didn't have time to address before the Olympics were postponed.  I am also using the time to improve my mental approach to life in and out of my sport. Also spend some time pursuing other interests other than sport.

I will be doing some work on my shooting positions at home without shooting for the time being.  Then as soon as the ranges open and we are allowed to start training fully again then I will be there more ready than ever before.''

The 15-member team also features Dan Repacholi in his fifth Games, while Dina Aspandiyarova is lining up for her fourth Olympics.

Seven athletes will make their Olympic Games debut. The team was nominated by Shooting Australia and selected by the Australian Olympic Committee.