Arthur Edwin "Art" Cook, a legendary marksman who became the youngest American to win an Olympic gold medal in shooting, has passed away at age 92.
Cook, who was born in Washington D.C. in 1928, reportedly began competitive shooting after visiting a Boy Scout camp at age 11. He would go on to win the National Junior Smallbore Rifle Championship in high school, set records in intercollegiate matches while at the University of Maryland as an All-American, train naval personnel in marksmanship, then represent the country at the 1948 Olympics in London.
There, he won the gold in a world-record-setting 50m Free Rifle Prone match at age 20 with a score of 599 in a 60-round course. He also set a bar in terms of youth in shooting sports that was not bested until 2008 when American skeet shooter Vincent Hancock won gold at age 18.
An Air Force Veteran who served for nine years in the Air Force Marksmanship Training Program, Cook would go on to represent the U.S. again at the International Shooting Union World Championships and Pan American Games at least five more times through the 1950s, earning a display case full of silver and gold medals. In later years, he spent two decades as a coach for the U.S. Deaf Olympic Team.
“Most shooting athletes view Olympic medals as a culmination of their career; for Art, his gold medal was only the beginning of his 70-year contribution to our sport,” says Matt Suggs, USA Shooting CEO. “He transcended beyond a champion, long after his individual achievements in the Olympics and World Championships, as a grand ambassador for our sport. With the same smile that he had in 1948.”
Survived by Mary, his wife of over 60 years, Cook's will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
As noted in his obituary:
In lieu of flowers, donations in Art Cook’s honor may be sent to: Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Washington at 924 G St., Washington DC 20004; Covenant House Greater Washington at 2001 Mississippi Ave SE, Washington DC 20020; or a charity of your choice.