Hancock targets gold - and gets it
BEIJING - Olympic shooters need to stay calm and still, and Vincent Hancock has a hard time doing either. But that didn't stop him from taking the gold in skeet shooting yesterday.
Hancock beat Norway's Tore Brovold in a shoot-off, becoming the second American at the Beijing Games to win a shotgun event.
"I have kind of a routine," said Hancock, who paces around when it's not his turn, trying not to pay attention to his competitors.
"I can't sit still . . . I try to take the anxiousness and the nervousness and turn it around into energy that I can focus on my shooting," he said.
Glenn Eller won the other US shooting gold in double trap Tuesday.
Brovold and Hancock each hit the first two targets of the shoot-off, but then Brovold missed one of two and Hancock hit both.
"I couldn't ask to shoot against a better shooter," Hancock said. "I was not expecting for him to miss. But I could feel the nervousness building up inside me, so I wasn't hoping for it to last much longer."
Anthony Terras of France won the bronze, beating Antonis Nikolaidis of Cyprus in a shoot-off. Cyprus has never won an Olympic medal. Nikolaidis had a chance to earn one after Terras missed one of two shots in the shoot-off. But Nikolaidis missed one as well, and Terras went on to take the bronze.
In 2005, Hancock won the world championship and was named shooter of the year by the International Shooting Sport Federation. He finished third in last year's world championship.
The 19-year-old Hancock is easily the youngest of the 14 shooting gold medalists so far at these Olympics.
"My next target? More medals, I guess," he said.
Hancock shot a 121 in qualifying for a 1-point lead over Brovold, Terras, and Nikolaidis. He then hit the first 19 targets in the final round, and it seemed he might be impossible to catch.
"My personal motto is, 'If you're perfect, nobody can beat you,' " Hancock said.
He missed shot No. 20, though, allowing Brovold to pull even. The Norwegian hit all 25 targets in the final, but then he missed in the shoot-off.
In skeet shooting, competitors fire 125 shots in qualifying and 25 in the final. Both Hancock and Brovold have shot 150s in this event in the last couple years.
"I was very nervous. It felt like I had nails in my blood, but during the shoot-off I was very calm," Brovold said. "I thought my third shot was a hit and I was about to protest, but I was unsure about it, so I didn't."
Hancock and Eller are both members of the US Army Marksmanship Unit. Hancock said he helps with training so soldiers are better prepared to go overseas.
"We're helping save American lives by teaching the soldiers what to do," he said.