Olympic gold medalist leads U.S. shotgun team into World Cup final
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock of Eaton, Ga., a U.S. Army sergeant, is leading the six-member U.S. squad during the 2012 International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Cup Final for shotgun this week in Maribor, Slovenia.
ISSF World Cup Finals are held each year to conclude the ISSF World Cup Series and feature the best eight shooters in each event with the highest qualification values.
Wildcard invitations are granted to other shooters such as defending champions and this year to the three Olympic medalists in each event.
Joining Hancock, 23, in Maribor will be two-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Corey Cogdell (Eagle River, Alaska) along with 2012 Olympian and 2010 World Champion Josh Richmond (USAMU/Hillsgrove, Pa.).
Other team members include rising trap shooter Kayle Browning (Wooster, Ark.) along with female skeet shooters Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, La.) and Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas).
Hancock won the gold medal in London by setting both a qualifying Olympic record, hitting 123 of 125 targets, and then backing that up with a perfect 25/25 in the final for an Olympic record of 148/150 overall.
Hancock, who also won the 2008 Olympic gold, became the first skeet shooter ever to win back-to-back gold medals in the event.
“What I’ve been taught is to know that I’m the best,” Hancock said at the time. “That’s what I was telling myself out there. I knew that I was going to win this before I stepped out on that field; it’s that expectation that I set for myself.”
Included in the 11 men trying to knock Hancock from his No. 1 ranking in the men’s skeet world include silver medalist Anders Golding of Denmark, bronze medalist Nasser Al-Attitya of Qatar and fourth-place finisher Valeriy Shomin of Russia.
“This competition has the top shooters of the year competing against each other,” Hancock said. “It is yet another stage for us to show the world what the U.S. athletes are capable of.”
Cogdell hopes to put results of a bad final round in London behind her and showcase the skills that led her to an Olympic bronze medal in Beijing as well as the World Cup win she earned at the Tucson World Cup in March.
“It is always such an honor to compete in the World Cup Finals as one of the top 12 in the world,” Cogdell said. “I’m looking forward to wrapping up my World Cup season with a strong performance.”
Joining Cogdell in the talented women’s trap field is Browning, who finished second to Cogdell for an Olympic spot.
Browning earned her way to Maribor after earning a bronze medal, her career first World Cup medal, at the London Prepares event in April.
“I’m ready for this competition,” Browning said. “I’ve got the right equipment, and hopefully my hard work and training will pay off to the team’s advantage.”
Four of the top five finishers, and all three medalists, from the 2012 Olympic Games will compete alongside the American trap shooters.
Jessica Rossi of Italy was the eventual gold medal winner, followed by Zuzana Stefecekova of Slovakia and Delphine Reau of France.
Also competing will be Fatima Galvez of Spain, a fifth-place finisher in London as well as 2008 Olympic gold medalist Satu Makela-Nummela of Finland.