Friday, August 15, 2008

Matt Emmons Wins Silver Medal

From Hero to Goat and Back Again.

Matt Chokes, again.

One shot away.

Oh, No, Not again!

Losing with Style.

These Games have brought us graphic, vastly different images of individual despair, too.

Consider Greco-Roman wrestler Ari Abrahamian, triple jumper Hrysopiyi Devetzi and shooter Matthew Emmons.

Abrahamian, the Armenian-born Swedish grappler, had his bronze medal removed by the International Olympic Committee after kicking up a stink over the judging of his semifinal loss. He had to be restrained from body slamming the officials. These are men best argued with from a distance.

He clearly has not been reading his Rudyard Kipling lately, the bit about treating the twin imposters of triumph and despair with an even hand.

Consider next Devetzi. She hurtled down the track for her final leap, striving for the silver medal, if only she could squeeze out an extra few centimetres. She made a hash of it, whereupon she burst into tears and ran into the arms of her coach.

Soon after, the bronze medal secured, she was gallivanting round the National Stadium track, Greek flag draped over her shoulders doing cartwheels. Despair to delight in minutes.

And finally consider American rifleman Emmons.

In Athens, with the gold one half-decent shot away, he had a brain explosion, firing at the wrong target.

In the 50m three-positional event here, he had the gold in the bag again, if only he put the final bullet somewhere near the middle of the board.

Instead Emmons dropped a clanger, scoring a hopeless 4.4 out of 10, dropping him out of the medals altogether.

He got a standing ovation. Maybe the Chinese crowd knew his history and sympathised; maybe they were cheering because his boo-boo had given a Chinese shooter the gold.

"When I was getting on the trigger the gun just went off," the amiable Emmons said later with a "life goes on" demeanour.

So not a man you'd want on a hunting trip, then, but a likeable and popular chap who knows his Kipling.

- David Leggat

Cupid Takes Aim - SI - Brian Cazeneuve

Story Highlights
  • Matt and Katy Emmons have become the feel-good couple of the Olympic Village
  • Katy took home the Beijing Games' first gold in the 10 meters air rifle
  • Matt won gold in the 50 meter prone rifle event in the 2004 Athens Games
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Katy Emmons (pictured with husband Matt) won the first gold medal of these games.
Katy Emmons (pictured with husband Matt) won the first gold medal of these games.
Bill Frakes/ SI

BEIJING -- Meet rifle shooter Matt Emmons, the luckiest Olympian in Beijing. Meet shooter Matt Emmons, the unluckiest Olympian in Beijing. Confused? So is Emmons. How come all these things keep happening to him? How can Tantalus pull Olympic gold out from under him twice, so he misses his most important shooting targets by a mile, while at the same meet, Cupid slings his arrows perfectly to make Emmons grateful for his misses? "I've had the ultimate highs and lows," Emmons says, "but when I put them together, I still feel blessed."

Here's why. Go back to Athens in 2004 when Emmons won gold in the 50-meter prone rifle event and was one shot away from winning gold in the three-position prone event. Emmons didn't need a perfect shot or even an average one, just a below-average one to maintain a three-point going into his final shot. Emmons sighted, aimed and fired at the wrong target. This was Jim Marshall running the wrong way, Freddy Brown passing the ball to James Worthy and Steve Smith stuffing the puck under Grant Fuhr. It was the day Bill Buckner ran into Lindsey Jacobellis and Eddie Hart showed up at 4:10 for his 4:05 heat of the hundred.

Emmons was known as a likeable, cheery guy and the line of sympathy for him after the competition practically extended out the door. Later that night, Emmons went to a beer garden where the first person to reach him was Katy Kurkova, a bronze-medal winning shooter from the Czech Republic who had said hi to Emmons a few times. A romance ensued, and the pair married in the Czech Republic last summer. "Everything happens for a reason," Emmons says. "If having Katy in my life is the reason for what happened in Athens, I'd cross-fire a million times."

Then this year, Tantalus showed up again. Matt had already won a silver medal in the 50-meter rifle prone, and Katy had won a gold and silver for the Czechs. Matt was leading the 50-meter three-position competition with one shot remaining. Again, he needed only a below-average score on the last shot to win gold. Instead, his gun went off prematurely and barely hit a piece of the target. Emmons had been scoring in the tens out of 10.9, with the prospect of an eight or nine fairly remote as well as he was shooting. "I was in my pre-shot routine," Emmons recalls. "I picked up my gun and came down from 12 o'clock into the target. As I was coming down, the gun just went off." Emmons recorded just 4.4 and slumped from first place to fourth on the last shot. China's Qiu Jian won gold.

Through his disappointment, Emmons again revealed himself as a fine sportsman. "I took 120 shots and then ten more in the final, and 129 of them were good," he said. "I can't let one moment ruin the beauty of the competition."

Afterwards, the people in the Czech house in Beijing, including the country's prime minister, threw a party for both Katy and Matt, and the minister of the interior offered to help Emmons become a dual citizen. The two have become media darlings of the Olympic village, calling to mind the marriage of U.S. hammer thrower Harold Connelly and Czech discus thrower Olga Fikitova in the '50s.

They have decided to keep competing, each with one eye on London as the other eye zeroes in on more targets. "By then," Emmons says, "I'm sure the reason for what happened in Beijing will reveal itself, too."

Browns Mills' Emmons blows gold on final shot mistake ... again

by M.A. Mehta/The Star-Ledger
Sunday August 17, 2008, 10:14 PM

Matt fell out of first place in the prelmininary round, and then screwed up the last round in the three stance 50 m and fell from second to fourth place, no medal.

I think he was paying too much attention to his wife.

He still has the gold from Athens, and the silver in the one stance, and his wife has a medal from Athens, and a gold and a silver from Bejing. That's some collection over one fireplace.

Congradulations to the Emmons family, and Browns Mills anxiously awaits another parade around the lake, like the one they gave Matt when he returned home from Athens.

This story isn't over yet.

And now its Brownsville, New Jersey.


August 2008

USA’s Emmons Mines Silver in Men’s Prone

Defending Olympic gold medalist in men’s prone, Matt Emmons of Brownsville, NJ, captured the silver medal at the Beijing Games. In an event where perfection is the norm, Emmons dropped a point in his first 10 shots and fired a 98 out of 100 in his third 10-shot string to finish the qualification round with a 597 out 600—two points behind Artur Ayvazian of Ukraine, the eventual gold medalist.

Yea, but he made up a point in the second round and lost by only one point. - BK


GoldArtur Ayvasian (UKR) 599103.7702.7
SilverMatt Emmons (USA)597104.7701.7
BronzeWarren Potent (AUS)595105.5700.5
4thVebjoern Berg (NOR)596103.1699.1
5thKonstantin Prikhodtchenko (RUS)595104.0699.0
6thValerian Sauveplane (FRA)594104.8698.8
7thJuha Hirvi (FIN)595103.5698.5
8thSergei Martynov (BLR)

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