Photo courtesy US Army writer Tim Hipps
EATONTON, Ga - For the second time, the small Georgia town of Eatonton is celebrating as a hometown hero makes Olympic history.
Eatonton's Vincent Hancock became the first man to win back to gold medals in skeet shooting.
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"I'm very proud," said Joanie Hancock, Vincent's sister. "I've seen him practice ever since he was 11, 12-years-old. He's focused. He was always like that."
Historically, Eatonton is a town known for Br'er Rabbit and dairy cows. Now, signs at the town limits welcome you to the home of Vincent Hancock.
At Gatewood High School, Hancock and friend Rod Horton started the Gatewood shooters. They spent years training together and traveling together.
"He was always that step ahead of everybody," said Horton. "He was always my idol."
In London, Hancock missed only two of 150 shots, setting an Olympic record.
Just last year, he considered quitting the sport. He said he'd lost his desire to compete.
"We sat down and talked about it and prayed about it," Hancock told 11Alive's Randy Waters as he prepared to depart for London. "We trusted in ourselves and trusted in God."
Hancock decided to continue competing, and followed up his Olympic victory in 2008 with another gold medal performance.
After his 2008 win, Hancock's hometown welcomed him back with a parade. Eatonton's mayor says he's now planning for something similar when Hancock returns from London.
Friends and family credit Hancock's success to his dedication to training and his ability to stay calm under Olympic pressure.
Hancock and his wife celebrated the birth of their second daughter in February.