Changing China

Giant on the move

Snapshot Beijing, 1: Matt Emmons

August 23, 2008

Emmons reacts to a costly mistake

So much goes on in such a short space of time at the Olympics that for many of us it all tends to blur into one. You’re lucky if you can come away from the Games with one indelible image in your mind, a moment you’ll always remember for the drama, the colour or the sheer brilliance of the performance.

We’re almost at the end now, so I’ve asked Reuters correspondents to share a favourite golden moment from the Games. Here’s the first from Erik Kirschbaum, who watched aghast as history repeated itself at the shooting. Erik writes:

As Yogi Berra might have said, it was deja vu all over again.
American Matt Emmons had just thrown away another gold medal on his last shot — just like he did four years ago in Athens when I was also watching from about 15 metres back. I bet Emmons will be remembered in 100 years for the unique feat. It was, for me, hands down the most incredible moment of the Beijing Olympics.
I spent 3 hours last Sunday watching Emmons, an unbelievably friendly accountant from New Jersey, build up a huge 3.3-point lead in the 3-positions shooting competition.

He made that marathon event famous four years ago by firing at the wrong target on the very last of his 130 shots and throwing away a 3-point lead and a sure gold medal.

In Beijing, Emmons seemed to be on a mission to make up for that wastefulness — even though he could laugh about it then and now. He did, after all, meet his wife thanks to that blunder in Athens.

Emmons was shooting brilliantly on that Sunday, hitting 10s on 7 of his first 9 shots in the 10-shot final and opening up a vast lead in a sport usually decided by fractions of a point.

I had my alert headline all set up on my computer screen, “American Matt Emmons wins Olympic gold medal in men’s 3-position shooting” and was about to pull the trigger when suddenly the score of 4.4 flashed on the screen above his head — and the crowd gasped.  

No, I thought. Can’t be true. He didn’t just blow it again, did he? An instant later I realised he had done just that. I still can’t really believe it.

I’ll be sending more of these, in no particular order, over the last two days of the Games.

PHOTO: Matthew Emmons of the U.S. reacts after shooting during the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 17, 2008. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke


These Olympics were great, and Matt’s performance was top, there’s no doubt about that.


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