KERRVILLE, Texas -- Many view the Olympic gold medal as the pinnacle of an athlete’s career.
For American skeet shooter Vincent Hancock, who took home gold in the skeet event at the recent London 2012 Olympic Games — an unprecedented repeat of the gold he earned during the 2008 Games in Beijing — his latest Olympic honor isn’t just the crest of a hill, it’s a turn in the road.
And what a busy road it is.
After taking a brief post-Games break to spend time with his family, the active serviceman in the U.S. Army returned to duty, where’s he’s been making the rounds as one of the military’s favorite new faces in public relations.
“(I) got a lot of PR things done for the military and things for USA Shooting,” Hancock said earlier this month at the 2012 World Cup Selection Match in Kerrville, Texas. “Then about a week and a half ago, I had a match in Slovenia for the World Cup Finals.”
Between his public relations work and time spent with the family, Hancock didn’t have much time to practice for the Slovenia competition, but he still came home with a silver medal.
That success carried over to Kerrville, where he took first place at the World Cup Selection Match with a score of 273 out of 275 — a personal best for the Texas tournament.
That’s hardly the end of it for Hancock, though. He’s got a jam-packed schedule ahead of him that doesn’t slow down until November, when he is set to retire from the armed services after six and a half years of service.
“Dec. 21 is the last day,” said Hancock, who trains with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga. “I have leave built up, so the last actual day I’ll be at work is Nov. 15. I’ll be out processing the whole first two weeks of November and after that is when I’ll finally get a little bit of a break.”
In the meantime, Hancock will be married to the road. He spent last weekend at Fort Knox and plans to be in Washington, D.C., this weekend.
Like last month, there’s not much time for practice, and even less time for family.
“It’s hard because of all the things I’ve done since the Olympics,” he said. “Not being home very much the next month — I’ll only be home eight days in October — it’s tough with two little girls, one’s 2 and one’s 7 months; they’re missing daddy and so is momma, too.”
That’s not to say Hancock regrets the Olympic performance that flooded his calendar with commitments. On the contrary, he remembers the London Games as one of the most special moments of his life.
“It’s something you can’t fathom unless you’re there,” he said. “It’s so different from anything you’ll ever experience in your whole life. Getting married, I’ve had two children and those are by far the highlights of my life, but going to the Olympics and being part of something so much bigger than myself ... I’m not just representing myself and my sport, but I’m representing the United States of America and the American people and soldiers as well.”
Come December, when Hancock is out of the military and home free, things will finally slow down for the Olympian, but he’ll hardly be walking away from the sport.
Hancock signed on to be part of a Discovery Channel TV show, “Sons of Guns,” which he will co-star with fellow Olympic champion Team USA shooters Kim Rhode, Jamie Gray and Matt Emmons. The show is expected to air in the spring.
“It will be a lot of fun down there,” he said. “I can’t wait to get down there and do it.”
After that, he has dreams of opening the Hancock Shooting Academy with his father. Headquartered in Georgia, the academy would host clinics across the country, bringing Hancock’s expertise to the next generation of shooters.
Hancock still plans to compete and win medals, but that hill’s been crested. This road leads somewhere new.
“The next stage of my career is to pass on the knowledge I’ve learned the last 13 years,” he said. “The sport is growing slowly, but it’s coming down to the guys who have been successful to go out and market the sport, to get more people into the sport, to grow it and make it bigger.
“That’s where I’m headed to now; trying to grow that knowledge and get the United States of America to realize what a great sport it is.”