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Pfc. Vincent Hancock, left, is greeted by his father and coach Craig Hancock after the final round of the men's skeet shooting event at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing on Aug. 16. Vincent Hancock won the gold medal. (Sergey Ponomarev / The Associated Press)
BEIJING — Five shots away from an Olympic gold medal, Pfc. Vincent Hancock opened the door for Tore Brovold of Norway with a miss in the 25-shot men's skeet shooting final.
Brovold, 38, and twice the age of Hancock, was given the break he needed by his teenage competitor, who could have buckled from the pressure of being in his first Olympics.
But Hancock, a member of the Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga., is not your typical 19-year-old first-time Olympian.
"It made me more determined," said Hancock, who went on to win gold by beating Brovold in a shoot-out at the Beijing Shooting Range on Saturday.
"Sometimes, I need something to boost my confidence or boost my determination to the next level. That's what happened."
The miss dropped Hancock into a tie with Brovold, who trailed the young marksman by one shot following the qualifying round. Hancock set a qualifying record by making 121 of 125 shots. He and Brovold went on to finish tied after 150 shots with scores of 145, which also set an Olympic record for best final score.
In the shoot-out, Brovold went first and hit two targets, which was then matched by Hancock. Brovold then missed one of his next two targets. Hancock, who was bouncing from one foot to the other and rubbing his hands against his pants as he waited, then ended the drama by knocking off two targets for the title.
"Vincent is a great shooter and a great friend," said Brovold. "I don't see the silver as a failure. I won the silver."
Anthony Terras of France won the bronze medal.
Hancock, who has been shooting in international competition since he was 16, is a former world champion. He was cheered on by his parents, Craig and Susan Hancock, and his wife of three months, Rebekah.
"I can't stop crying, I'm so thrilled and it's an amazing experience," said Rebekah, moments before her husband received his medal.
Hancock was the second member of the Fort Benning unit to win gold. Army Spc. Glenn Eller finished first in men's double trap.
Earlier on Saturday, Army Staff Sgt. Keith Sanderson, a member of the 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, at Camp Casey, South Korea, finished fifth in men's 25-meter rapid fire pistol. He set an Olympic record in qualifying with a score of 583, but struggled in the finals. He dropped to sixth before climbing back to fifth on his final round. Oleksandr Petriv of Ukraine won the gold medal.
"That was my first time going into a final in first place," said Sanderson, 33. "You try to prepare for it mentally and stuff but there's nothing you can do so it was quite distracting."
Despite the poor finish, Sanderson said he's enjoyed being on this stage for the first time.
"I've never had a match before where I can come off the line saying I had fun, especially if I didn't do well," he said. "But this time I can say it was really fun to be part of the whole Olympic experience, to be representing America.
"I wish I would have represented them a little better a couple of minutes ago, but other than that it was enjoyable. I can't wait until 2012."
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