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Hancock Gold, Smith Bronze and Team Silver to Close ISSF World Championship

CHANGWON, South Korea (September 14, 2018)

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock picked up his fourth World Championship title today in Men’s Skeet to close the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship at the Changwon International Shooting Range.

Along with the gold, Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia) also secured an Olympic quota for the United States with a flourish – dropping just one target throughout the entire match, early in today’s Final. A quota is essentially a country’s ticket to participate in a specific event in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. In Shooting competition at the Olympic Games, a country can earn up to two quotas in each event – but that doesn’t guarantee a specific athlete to compete in the Games, just that his/her country has a spot to do so.

“I kind of treated all of the World Cups before this as a stepping stone to get here, and this is just another stepping stone to get to the Olympics,” said Hancock, who won gold at all of the World Cups in which he competed this year: Acapulco, Mexico, Changwon and Siggiewi, Malta. He sat out the World Cup in Tucson, Arizona to compete in the Summer Selection Match and prepare for the World Championship. “The whole goal was to make sure I got a quota first and foremost, but I told myself if I could hit every target, I’ll be able to get the quota and win a gold medal. I was just trying to focus on doing the best I could and let God take care of the rest.”

Hancock started the two days of competition hitting a perfect 125/125 in dark, rainy conditions to equal the Qualification World Record. Once in the Final, he only dropped the eighth target over the entire match to equal the Finals World Record.

“It was kind of nerve-wracking at first, but I recognized what was going on,” said Hancock of the one missed target of his match. “I had seen it before; the high house was kind of moving in and out and up and down as well. The biggest change you’ll feel as an athlete is when it goes in and out because it’s a depth perception issue, and it’s a timing issue. If it’s a little further out, you have to move a little slower with the target. I shot the first target, then I picked it up [in my vision] right when it went into the puff of that first target. When it exited out, I was already way out in front, but then I stopped and just shot right behind it. Once I saw that, I knew I just had to hit the first one and make a really elongated move to the second target. That kind of put me in the right frame of mind to just focus on the target and shoot it right where it is at and it paid off.”

Today was the third time in 2018 that Hancock has finished a Final with 59/60 targets, equaling the World record set by today’s bronze medalist Riccardo Filippelli and Great Britain’s Ben Llewellin. When Hancock completed the final station of the Final, he knew silver medalist Erik Watndal of Norway couldn’t catch him in targets and Hancock triumphantly pumped his fist in the air. Watndal hit 55/60 targets in the Final to win the silver medal.

“Shooting in the rain is not fun, in any conditions,” said Hancock. “Thankfully when it was coming down, it was always at our sides or coming down behind us. When it’s not blowing in your face and getting on your glasses, it makes it a lot easier to see the targets. If I can see the target, I can break it, so with the low clouds and the mountain in the background, the targets are surprisingly bright.” Hancock has won three gold medals in the three matches in which he’s competed at the Changwon International Shooting Range.  

Hancock also becomes the first person ever to win four World titles in Men’s Skeet; eclipsing Abdullah Alrashidi of Kuwait and Jury Tsuranov of the Soviet Union. Hancock is also now one of three men in the Shotgun discipline to earn four world titles in his career, joining Michel Carrega of France and Giovanni Pellielo of Italy.

Also competing in Men’s Skeet was two-time Olympian Frank Thompson (Alliance, Nebraska) who finished in 45th place with 119 targets, and Phillip Jungman (Caldwell, Texas/U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit) who finished in 65th place with a score of 116 targets.

The Men’s Skeet team of Hancock, Thompson and Jungman also finished just one target out of a team bronze medal with their cumulative score of 360.

Winning bronze in Junior Women’s Skeet shortly before Hancock won gold was Austen Smith (Kellar, Texas), who just happens to have Hancock as a coach. Smith had to earn her spot in the Final through a three-way shootoff after her Qualification score of 114, which included her teammate and 2017 World Champion Katie Jacob (Rochester, Michigan). Smith would win the shootoff with four targets. Jacob did not advance to the Final and finished in seventh place overall.

“It was crazy, to say the least!” said Smith. “The conditions, I’ve never shot over here before, just trying to get used to everything. It was really unexpected to get on the podium. I’m just really happy I was able to medal! The shootoff was extremely tense. Was hoping we [my teammates] could all be in there, so it was stressful – probably gave myself some ulcers!”

Sam Simonton (Gainesville, Georgia) finished Qualification tied for the top score of 117 with eventual gold medalist Yufei Che of China. Simonton would be eliminated in the Final in the sixth position with 16 targets.

When it came to the third-place elimination, Smith and Zhengyi Song of China were tied with 43 targets. Smith, however, had the lower bib number and thus was eliminated in the bronze medal position. Smith also won silver at the 2017 Shotgun World Championship. Song went on to claim the silver medal.

“This match she had some struggles on a couple different rounds, but it’s more about getting her in the right frame of mind – and that’s not me, it’s her,” said Hancock. “I had a talk with her before her last round, and just told her to be herself, because she wasn’t being that. She came back and I’m just super proud of her. If you ask her, she won’t be happy with a bronze medal, but that’s just because she expects so much from herself. I told her to be proud because I am – she did a great job.”

The team of Smith, Simonton and Jacob also won team silver with their cumulative score of 345. China claimed the gold and Russia earned the bronze medal. Smith, Simonton and Jacob also won team gold at the 2017 Shotgun World Championship.

Men’s and Junior Men’s 25m Standard Pistol was also contested today. On the Junior side, Jack Leveret III (Bainbridge, Georgia) finished in fifth place with a score of 563.

Ryan Yi (Diamond Bar, California) finished in 28th place with a score of 538. Kevin Bennett (Belmont, Massachusetts) finished in 29th place with a score of 500.

In Men’s 25m Standard Pistol, three-time Olympian Keith Sanderson (Colorado Springs, Colorado) finished in 33rd place with a score of 557, Alex Chichkov (Temple Terrace, Florida) finished in 43rd place with a score of 547 and James Hall (Anniston, Alabama) finished in 47th place with a score of 541.

In Men’s 300m Three-Position Rifle, Bradley Yliniemi (Duluth, Minnesota) finished in 31st place with a score of 1114. Mark Gould (El Segundo, California) finished in 34th place with a score of 1081 and Peter Fiori, Sr. (Lebanon, New Jersey) finished in 37th place with a score of 1048.

Complete results from the 52nd ISSF World Championship: https://www.issf-sports.org/media/calendar/2018/1750/completeresult/WCH%20All%20KOR%202018%20Results%20Book.pdf.

Over the 15 days of competition, more than 1,800 athletes from 91 countries competed in more than 60 Olympic and non-Olympic shooting events across five disciplines. The USA Shooting Team earned 19 medals to finish in ninth place in the medal count, as well as four Olympic quotas. At the 2014 ISSF World Championship, the USA Shooting Team earned 17 medals and two Olympic quotas.

Photos from the ISSF World Championship: www.flickr.com/usashooting.

Categories: Press Releases, 2018 World Championship