Western Australian Anton Zappelli has become the state’s first officially selected member of the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team after the APC today named him on a six-strong squad for the Rio Paralympic Games.
The Willagee resident, at 44 years of age, will make his Paralympic debut in Rio in the SH1 rifle classification, where he forms part of a squad that is aiming for success in Brazil as the Games head to South America for the first time.
"Our overall goal is to make four or more finals and come out with one or two medals,” head coach Miro Sipek said.
"Our Paralympic shooters are winning medals at the IPC World Cups but we’ve missed out on coming up against some of our toughest competitors, so it is very hard to predict our real chances in Rio.
"As head coach, I’ll be very happy to see our athletes enjoying competition, supporting each other and achieving scores close to their PBs or their new PBs,” Sipek continued.
Zappelli injured his back in a car accident in 1989 as a 17 year-old, which left him a paraplegic. A promising golfer in his youth, Zappelli was introduced to shooting in later life and quickly excelled, to the point he won a bronze medal at World Cup level in 2015, which qualified Australia a sixth quota place for Rio.
Australia has won 25 medals in shooting at the Paralympic Games – 15 gold, seven silver and three bronze – since it was introduced at the Toronto 1976 Paralympic Games. Remarkably, Libby Kosmala, who won Australia’s first ever Paralympic gold medal in the sport, returns in Rio for a 12th Paralympic campaign for Australia.
Chef de Mission of the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team Kate McLoughlin congratulated Sipek and his team and looks forward to seeing the tally of Australian shooting medals continue to grow in Rio.
"Australia has an impressive history in shooting at the Paralympics, starting off with Libby hitting the mark with a gold in 1976.
"Our shooters have posted some terrific results since London, and we’re very hopeful these results will continue in Rio,” McLoughlin said.
Paralympic shooting is open to all athletes with a physical disability in both standing and wheelchair classes. Athletes compete in rifle and pistol events from distances of 10, 25 and 50m, in men's, women's and mixed competitions.
The Rio Paralympic Games will take place from 7-18th September, 2016.