NewsVincent HancockAmber English

Amber English And Vincent Hancock Reflect On Olympic Skeet Gold Medals

by Karen Rosen

Amber English and Vincent Hancock pose with their medals at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 26, 2021 in Saitama, Japan.

 

TOKYO – Once Amber English clinched the gold medal in women’s skeet at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, her mind and body acted like a hard drive that had been wiped clean.
“It was pretty crazy,” English said. “It was like I hit the one (to win) and just forgot how to shoot.”
It didn’t matter, though, because she was done and the gold medal was hers.
About an hour later, English’s old friend Vincent Hancock, whom she met when they were teenagers, won the men’s skeet gold.
Both shot Olympic records at the Asaka Shooting Range – English with 56 hits to defeat Diana Bacosi of Italy with 51 hits. Wei Meng of China had 46 hits for the bronze.

Hancock was nearly perfect with his performance hitting 59 out of 60 targets. He defeated Jesper Hansen of Denmark (55) and Abdullah Al-Rashidi of Kuwait (46) took the bronze. 
Hancock missed the first target at station four in the the third round. He said the wind had picked up and the targets were moving around a bit. Combine that with poor lighting, and he said, “trying to find the setting target was almost impossible. I pulled the trigger and I thought I saw it - and I kept on looking. And I was, ‘Oh, there it is.’ I was close, but honestly I missed it.”
He was perfect the rest of the way to win an unprecedented third Olympic gold medal in skeet. Hancock also earned golds in 2008 and 2012 – becoming the first male shooter to earn two Olympic titles in a row in skeet - but he was 15th in 2016. English did not make the team in 2012 or in 2016.


After her father, Mike, a five-time national champion shooter, passed away in early 2016 in a diving accident in the Cayman Islands, English stepped away from the sport. 

It was Hancock, 32, who helped push English, 31, to pick up her shotgun again.
English joined the U.S. Army Reserve in early 2017, and with her skill, was assigned to the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program and is now a first lieutenant attached to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit for training

“I couldn’t be happier for her,” Hancock told media in Tokyo. “I love that girl like a sister. Now we both have medals around our necks.”
Hancock, of Eatonton, Georgia, also took some time away from shooting after the 2016 Olympics, skipping the 2017 season. He returned to win the world championships gold medal in 2018 while English was the bronze medalist.

When Hancock arrived at the range in Tokyo, however, he did not pick up where he left off. In the qualification rounds, he missed three shots, but made the final after a shoot-off. 
“After that, I really started enjoying myself,” Hancock told media after the event, noting that he had “a little bit of a grin coming off after that first station. I’m like, ‘All right, it’s game on. We’re good. Let’s do this again.’”

He had a streak of 34 straight targets before missing in the final.
“The feelings and the thoughts that were going through my head and through my body at that time as I was going through the round in the final was all over the place,” Hancock said. “The nice thing is that I’ve been there, I’ve done it. I know how to handle those things, so I just revert back to my process – trying to keep it easy, keep it simple.”
He worked through his pre-shot routine and shot routine. 
“my body and my mind reacted the way they need to,” Hancock said. I was able to accomplish what I needed to and go out there and hit as many targets as I possibly could.”
So did English, a native of Colorado Springs, Colorado. 
“I was down two targets right off the bat, so I knew I was kind of in a little bit of a hole,” she said, “but I was able to dig myself out of it and those were kind of my highlight reels for myself - just allowing myself to perform when I needed to.
“I really looked to win a gold medal here. I expected myself to medal and just perform at the best of my abilities and was really, really happy to be able to connect all the dots.”
Although English’s father shot running target, she gravitated toward shotgun.
“I tried the rifle/pistol disciplines and it just was not for me,” English said. “I wanted to be outside and do things that were kind of fast-paced, so shotgun was definitely more up my alley.” 

Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit TeamUSA.org/Tokyo2020 to view the medal table, results and competition schedule.


Karen Rosen has covered every Summer and Winter Olympic Games since 1992 for newspapers, magazines and websites. Based in Atlanta, she has contributed to TeamUSA.org since 2009.
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