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.’”