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BEIJING 2008 : SHOOTING

Emmons loses gold on last shot again

August 18, 2008|Melissa Isaacson | Chicago Tribune

BEIJING -- Once again, Matt Emmons chose to be philosophical.

"You just can't let it get to you, there are other things way more important," Emmons said Sunday after watching a gold medal slip away in dramatic fashion for the second time in the same event in the last two Olympics. "I'm waiting for some really good thing to happen from this, because everything happens for a reason."

Four years ago in Athens, the more important thing was that Emmons met his future wife, Katerina, when the Czech shooter came over and consoled the American after he shockingly fired at the wrong target on his final shot in the men's 50-meter rifle three-positions event.

This time, however, it might be a little tougher to get over, as Emmons had a huge lead (3.3 points) going into the final shot in the same event and inexplicably misfired.

Television coverage showed Katy Emmons gasping in the stands as her husband's last shot almost missed the entire target for a score of 4.4. Emmons had scored 10.0 or better on seven of his previous nine shots. In another repeat of four years ago, a Chinese shooter benefited from Emmons' mistake as Qiu Jian won the gold. Emmons finished fourth.

"The way I come into a target is I start above the target and come down from 12 o'clock and get into the bull's-eye," Emmons said. "And as I get down into the bull's-eye is when I start to get on the trigger [with my finger] and as I was starting to get on the trigger, the gun just went off.

"I guess I just set it off. I got on the trigger a little too hard. I didn't feel my finger shaking, but I guess it was. It just hit the trigger, the gun went off and I was like, 'Uh, that's not going to be good. I hope it hit the black.' "

It hit the black, but a little high.

"If the shot had made it all the way down to the bull's-eye, it would've been pretty decent," Emmons said.

It was not, and Emmons goes home disappointed again, though this time with someone to console him full time.

"What happened today I think will keep him going, keep him determined, and he will be more experienced," Katy Emmons said. "This will keep him pointed in the right direction."

Emmons said his mistake in Athens gained more publicity for the sport, and that will happen again.

"I think this will bring the sport more attention," he said.

And if that doesn't cheer him up sufficiently?

"Having Katerina by my side is the most important thing," he said. "Whether I win or lose, she will always be there for me."

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