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Vincent Hancock captures third gold as U.S. sweeps skeet shooting

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Getting to the top of the mountain in the Olympics is tough enough. Getting back after falling off? That requires something close to perfection, and that's exactly what Vincent Hancock achieved Monday in the men's skeet shooting event.

Hancock hit 59 of 60 targets, setting a new Olympic record and winning his third career gold medal. He and Amber English, who won the event on the women's side, combined for an American sweep of the skeet competition.

Already one of the most decorated shooters ever, Hancock came into this year's Games with two gold medals already on his resume from 2008 and 2012. But he suffered a disappointing and surprising 15th-place finish in Rio in 2016, leading to some deep soul-searching.

Vincent Hancock shot his way to a third gold medal.  (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Vincent Hancock shot his way to a third gold medal. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

"You learn a lot as you get older and with age comes wisdom," Hancock said after his victory Monday. "It's the same thing with experience. For me, I had to get that experience of knowing what it was like to not win to truly understand what it was going to take for me to stay on top, to get back to the top and stay there."

The path to gold wasn't easy, not getting to Tokyo and not in Monday's competition. Hancock struggled early and had to survive a shoot-off just to make the finals. But he found his footing and eventually set the Olympic record for accuracy. Jesper Hansen of Denmark won silver, and Abdullah Alrashidi of Kuwait took bronze.

"After the delay last year and with not knowing if this was going to happen or not, I took a lot of time off last year just to mentally and physically reset and I wasn't going to believe it was going to happen until my feet touched down here in Tokyo," Hancock said. "I've just been so excited to get here, knowing that I'm capable of doing what I just did."

Hancock is the only Olympian skeet shooter to win multiple gold medals.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com.

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