Two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock's 2015 season got even better Thursday as The United States Olympic Committee announced the 2014-15 finalists for the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year, which recognize the outstanding achievements of Team USA athletes year-round.
Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia) is being recognized for a stellar 2015 in skeet shooting that included: two World Cup wins; a silver medal at World Cup Finals; second at USA Shooting Nationals; an unprecedented third World Championship crown; and an automatic nomination to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team.
Hancock's season began with perfection as he hit all 157 targets he faced in the first World Cup of the season in Acapluco, Mexico. That feat hadn't been accomplished since the new rule changes following the 2012 Olympic Games.
Earning his third World Championship crown in Lonato, Italy in September also put him in rarefied air as well. Hancock's just the third athlete to ever win three Men's Skeet World Championship gold medals, along with Jury Tsuranov of the former Soviet Union and Abdullah Alrashidi of Kuwait. In the proud history of U.S. shotgun sports, Hancock is the first American shotgun athlete to win three World Championship titles.
"I'm extremely flattered to be considered one of America's top athletes over this past year," Hancock said. "With gold in Rio as my next goal, it was important for me to begin that quest putting forth elite-level performances in 2015. I'm hopeful this recognition will bring the right type of attention to the shooting sports and showcase the accomplishments of all my teammates as we set our sights on Rio."
To read a recent feature on Hancock where he discusses faith, family and his future, click here.
In order for Hancock to try and become the first USA Shooting athlete to win the the USOC's coveted Athlete of the Year award, he's going to need the help of his fans and fans of the shooting sports who are invited to vote for their favorite athletes and teams at www.TeamUSA.org/Awards through Friday, Nov. 20.
The Team USA Awards honor the athletes and teams of the year in six categories:
Female Olympic Athlete of the Year, presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods
Male Olympic Athlete of the Year
Olympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow
Female Paralympic Athlete of the Year, presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods
Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year
Paralympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow
Formerly known as the USOC SportsMan, SportsWoman and Team of the Year awards, the honors began in 1974. The impressive and diverse collection of past winners – from Carl Lewis (track and field) and Bonnie Blair (speedskating) to Michael Phelps (swimming) and Jessica Long (Paralympic swimming) – represent nearly 30 sports on the summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic programs. Their collective accomplishments tell the inspiring story of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements throughout history.
Athletes and teams considered for the Best of the Year were finalists for Best of the Month honors, dating back to the fall of the previous year and coinciding with the sport calendar. A USOC nominating committee then selected the top-five finalists in the individual categories and top three in the team categories to advance to the voting round.
Online fan voting at www.TeamUSA.org/Awards accounts for 50 percent of the final tally, while members of the Olympic and Paralympic family – including an esteemed panel of Olympic and Paralympic journalists – account for the other 50 percent.
The six award winners will be announced during the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year, to be held Dec. 10 at the University of Pennsylvania's Houston Hall in Philadelphia. The awards show will be televised on NBCSN on Dec. 27 from 3-4 p.m. ET.
The year-end celebration will also recognize the Building Dreams Award, presented by USG, which honors an individual, group or community that has gone above and beyond in its support of Team USA.
In addition to presenting sponsor Dow, four USOC partners – DICK'S Sporting Goods, Kellogg's, Samsung and USG – are associate sponsors of the Team USA Awards program.