Shooters from the United States have claimed three gold medals so far in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. The trio of first-place finishes include Men’s Skeet, Women’s Skeet and Men’s Air Rifle.
William Shaner captured the first Olympic medal ever claimed by the United States in Men’s Air Rifle. He did it in style, too, claiming gold in his first Olympics.
The University of Kentucky student told the Outdoor Wire, “It feels amazing. I’m only 20, but I’ve been doing this since I was eight. I’ve been doing this a long time, so I’ve been able to get a good score and progress. To finally achieve what I came here to do is amazing.”
Shaner held a 1.5-point lead over the People’s Republic of China’s Haoran Yang with two shots left. Yang closed ground, but not enough, and Shaner’s score of 251.6 claimed top spot on the podium. It also set a new Olympic record. “I just focused on my process and just competing and just stayed within myself and not focus on outcomes,” Shaner said.
Vincent Hancock won his third Olympic gold medal in Tokyo. He also became the first man in history to earn three golds in Men’s Skeet.
His drop to the ground immediately after the winning shot was widely thought to be an early celebration but, in reality, it was an effort to relieve the back pain he endured through the latter matches. “Just coming out here and trying to compete for a gold medal, it’s exhausting,” Hancock told a reporter for USA Today. “It truly is. Not everybody’s able to come out here and compete at the level that they want, so you never know.”
Colorado Springs, CO, native Amber English claimed gold in Women’s Skeet. Her final score of 56 hits also set a new Olympic record.
English’s road to the Olympics was a challenge, though. She failed to make the U.S. team in 2012. It didn’t work out in 2016, either, and on the heels of that disappointment her father—also an accomplished shooter—died. She found it hard to get back on the firing line for a time, joined the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, and after encouragement and support from Hancock has roared into Olympic-winning form.