Vincent Hancock, superman on shooting range

August 19th, 2008 - 9:03 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 19 (Xinhua) Superman Hancock not only exists in Hollywood movies. His 19-year-old American namesake has all the elements to qualify for the honorific title.Vincent Hancock’s achievements are exciting: world record of men’s skeet with 150 hits, or full marks for the event, gold medals from the 2005 World Championships and four world cups from 2005 to 2008 and a new title - Olympic champion.

“I love winning. It is good feeling to me,” he beamed after bagging the Olympic champion title, showing a pair of lovely canine teeth.

Hancock started shooting at the age of eight, when his shooter father Craig asked, “Do you want to try shooting?”

“Why not?” he responded.

A diligent shooter, every day he shot around four or five 25-shell boxes of ammunition on the skeet field created by his father.

After that he did other routines that helped keep his mind sharp and his body in good form, including push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and dips, as well as relaxation and visualisation exercises on his living room floor.

Three years later, the boy began appearing in competitions.

In 2005, he debuted in the international arena, grabbing the gold medal in Changwon World Cup with a surprising 149 hits, when everybody was wondering who the kid was.

However, Hancock considered that competition hardest in his life. “I focussed on nothing but the targets,” he said.

He started seven times that year in international tournaments, taking a medal each time as the first shooter ever to do so, and was hence awarded as shooter of the year.

In 2006 the boy did two things.

One was quitting competitions to join the armed force, where he was supposed to “train soldiers how to shoot”.

Founded in 1956, the shooting squad of the US armed force has produced many ace shooters. To date, its members have won 21 Olympic medals.

The team members trained five days a week and five to six hours a day. Like real soldiers, they received psychological drill as well as physical. Psychology is important in shooting competitions.

“I learned a lot from the army, like determination, perseverance and discipline,” he said, adding that this was helpful in his shooting career.

As his coach Lloyd Woodhouse saw it, joining the army could put many ace shooters together for them to compare with each other and improve. “When you train alone, you can work really hard, but you don’t know where your problems are,” he said.

The other thing Hancock did was to meet Rebekah in 2006 who was from a nursing school.

“She is a trap shooter and I saw her competing in the spring of 2006,” he recalled.

They held their wedding ceremony this May in Eatonton, Georgia.

Hancock said he liked the flash target used in the Beijing Olympics, because the pink smoke made him excited.

“When I am shooting skeet, I always want to hit the centre of the plate and see how it breaks,” he said.

During competitions, he did feel nervous, rubbing his sweating hands against his pants from time to time.

Fortunately he held his nerves, both in the final round and the shoot-off.

When he won the medal, his mother sat behind shedding tears, while his 74-year-old grey-haired coach jumped over to hug him.

“Hancock is not only talented, he is a genius,” said Chinese veteran shooter Zhang Shan, gold medallist in skeet at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The big boy recalls he once pointed at the televised video clip of blockbuster “Hancock” to his wife. “Look, it’s me,” he said.

Rebekah smiled and didn’t reply.

In retrospect, no matter whether she agreed or not, the remarks seemed more than a joke.

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