Vincent Hancock aims to fire while practicing at his home range, Fort Worth Trap and Skeet Club, preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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Vincent Hancock aims to fire while practicing at his home range, Fort Worth Trap and Skeet Club, preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Vincent Hancock, Georgia’s famed skeet shooting gold medalist, is still training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics even though the games have been postponed. The gold medalist told GPB News he has been smiling since qualifying for the Olympic team trials two weeks ago and isn’t worried about the changes to the competition.

Still, Hancock’s disappointed.

“Now knowing that I'm not going to get to walk in the opening ceremonies, which is my favorite part of any of the Olympics,” he said, adding, “I was really, really looking forward to that. This one kind of hurts,” he told GPB News.

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo Organizing Committee announced the postponement of this year's games earlier this week. Though this is the first time a pandemic has caused a standstill to the games, the Olympics have been canceled before. In 1916, the summer games were canceled in the German Empire due to the outbreak of World War I. And though the games continued in 1980, the U.S. and allies boycotted the games in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

A veteran, both when it comes to playing in the Olympics and serving in the United States Army, Hancock competed in Beijing in 2008, London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The Eatonton native remains humble amid all of his victories.

“There's so many good athletes," he said. "I can't even consider myself as one of the top athletes in Georgia history but knowing that I can try and that my name is even slightly associated with them, has been a really cool feeling.”

The Road to the Gold

Hancock was just 11 years old, when he found his passion for the sport and for competition.

“I love to win but I absolutely hate to lose and so that drove me to become better and better,” he said.

By the time he was 16, Hancock had won his first world championship and his career quickly took off from there. In 2008, in Beijing, he won a gold medal, and followed up with another in London in 2012.

 

Hancock said that the past few weeks have been a whirlwind since securing a spot in the Olympics. “It was kind of like the calm before the storm.”

COVID-19, at that point, did not alter the qualifying competition in any way, but now Hancock has to create a new practice routine as he aims for competition in 2021. 

“It's going to be really difficult to set a good training plan, at least as of right now. 2021 was supposed to be my off year. I was going to take a gap year after the Olympics this year,” said Hancock.

For now, he still practices at a private club in Fort Worth, Texas, maintaining his practice schedule even in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. “We definitely observe the social distancing and make sure we're all staying healthy,” said Hancock.

But now, Tarrant County officials have issued a stay-at-home order. Hancock doesn’t know yet if it might be illegal to go out to his range to practice. “I'm still doing what I do because I love it, and I'm still maintaining and abiding by the rules and laws of what the land has to say,” said Hancock.

All of the future competitions he was set to compete in have either been canceled or postponed through the summer.

For now, Hancock just wants to push past the pandemic.

“[I hope] we can get [Covid-19] all figured out, and as a globe, get past the issues that we're facing right now. [I hope] we can all get healthy and we can all go back to doing what we enjoy and what we do best."

 

Vincent Hancock in Hollywood, California at a United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee photo shoot.
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Vincent Hancock in Hollywood, California at a United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee photo shoot.
Vincent Hancock and his wife Rebekah in a parade in Eatonton, Ga. during a celebration of Hancock's 2008 gold medal in skeet shooting.
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Vincent Hancock and his wife Rebekah in a parade in Eatonton, Ga. during a celebration of Hancock's 2008 gold medal in skeet shooting.
Vincent Hancock stands proudly as he represents the United States Olympic Athletes in Hollywood, California.
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Vincent Hancock stands proudly as he represents the United States Olympic Athletes in Hollywood, California.