New rules or not, Vincent Hancock’s (Eatonton, Ga.) reign atop the skeet shooting world is as solid as ever after earning the eighth International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup medal of his career Sunday to conclude a very successful trip to Acapulco, Mexico for the USA Shooting Team.
The reigning two-time Olympic gold medalist missed just two targets in 125 shots in qualifying to tie with Italian competitor Giancarlo Tazza. He would then assert his shooting dominance in the semifinals with a perfect 16/16 round to secure a spot in the finals against Britain’s Michael Gilligan.
The gold-medal match started off with a bit of thrill as Hancock missed his first target. But then, the 24-year-old Hancock zeroed in again, shooting perfect right through to the last double on station four. No chances for Gilligan, 24, whose best placement previously had had been a 106th place at the 2011 ISSF World Cup in Maribor.
Hancock said: “It feels great. I have been working a lot to set up my shooting academy lately, and I didn’t have much time to train before this match. So I am extremely happy of the outcome. My aim is clear. After the 2008 Games, I was close to quitting. The motivation to continue was missing. But now, after winning London’s Games, I’ve clearly defined my goal and Rio 2016 is my sights.”
The bronze medal went to United Arab Emirates’ Said Bin Futtais as the 39-year-old shooter outdid 20-year-old Jon Michael McGrath (Tulsa, Okla.) 15 to 14 hits in the bronze-medal match, securing his first ISSF medal ever. McGrath had a great shooting performance in pursuit of his second career World Cup medal.
In the season’s first World Cup, the USA Shooting Team finished second overall with three medals including Hancock’s gold, Brian Burrows’ (Fallbrook, Calif.) silver in Men’s Trap and Ian Rupert’s (Muncy, Pa.) bronze medal in Double Trap. Outside the three medalists, the U.S. Team had nine of the 13 athletes attending that finished in the top-10 overall.
Italy finished atop the medal standings with seven medals overall including two gold, two silver and three bronze. Great Britain ranked in third place.
Over 160 athletes from 27 countries attended the Acapulco meet to get the shooting calendar underway and to ultimately determine who would stand out under the new rules.
The new ISSF rule changes have brought about the most extensive set of modifications in the sports history while implementing a completely new Finals format. The new rules push even greater drama on the final stages. The ISSF feels that the changes make medal decisions easier to understand, thus enhancing the viewing excitement for both spectators and TV audience.
After the drama seen in Mexico throughout the first World Cup, ISSF PresidentOlegario Vazquez Raña likes what he has seen thus far: “I really think that the new ISSF rules are the best change ever made by the ISSF. Spectators like the new format, and we have clearly seen it here in Acapulco. There is drama. There is suspense. There are emotions. Medal matches are thrilling and involving.”
The ISSF World Cup Series will now move to Changwon, Korea, where the next ISSF World Cup Stage in Rifle and Pistol events is scheduled to take place April 2-10. The second shotgun World Cup of the season will require travel over to the United Arab Emirates, April 16-25. Each of the season’s first two World Cups will feature one of the top-two finishers from the Fall Selection Match plus one of the top-two finishers from the junior division in that competition.
Image courtesy USA Shooting