By Darci Miller | Sept. 17, 2015, 12:09 p.m. (ET)
Vincent Hancock competes in the 2014 ISSF Shotgun World Championships on Sept. 17, 2014 in Granada, Spain.


At the press conference following his second consecutive Olympic gold-medal win in men’s skeet shooting three years ago, Vincent Hancock was already eyeing building his legacy in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“Knowing that I want to go back and build my legacy is what I am going for now,” Hancock said. “It’s not just the number of medals; it’s what else can I do, how big can I grow this sport and how many people can I introduce to it?”

After winning world championship gold on Thursday at the ISSF World Championship Shotgun in Lonato, Italy, Hancock accomplished the goal of building his legacy – by earning his third world title – and secured himself of that long-awaited opportunity to return to the Olympic stage and continue that legacy.

Hancock first world gold at worlds in 2005, when he was just 16, and repeated the feat in 2009.

This year's world championships marked the end of USA Shooting’s Olympic points system, which Hancock ended with 69 points to safely earn one of two available U.S. spots in men’s skeet at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The second spot will be filled at Olympic team selection competitions in October and May.

A two-time Olympian, Hancock’s Olympic record is perfect, as he earned gold at the Beijing 2008 Games – setting an Olympic record in the process – before defending his title in London. He became the first Olympic skeet shooter to win gold medals in the same event in consecutive Olympic Games and will look to add to that history with a third gold in Rio.

Hancock had mathematically secured his Olympic nomination prior to the world championships, with a season that included a world cup gold medal in Acapulco, Mexico, and a win at nationals. He finished fourth at the world cup in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, and 17th at the one in Gabala, Azerbaijan.

Now 26, the Georgia native becomes the third Olympic champion on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, joining fellow shooters Matt Emmons and Glenn Eller. Hancock is the only athlete on the team with more than one Olympic gold medal.

Hancock is the 13th U.S. athlete to qualify for the Olympic team, joining pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher, table tennis player Yue “Jennifer” Wu, open water swimmers Jordan Wilimovsky, Sean Ryan and Haley Anderson, triathletes Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True, and shooters Michael McPhail, Keith Sanderson, Emmons, Eller and Morgan Craft.