Matt Emmons is competing in his fourth Olympics in Rio. In his first three appearances at the Olympics, Emmons has come away with three medals: gold in 2004, silver in 2008 and bronze in 2012.
While Emmons has been regarded as one of the top rifle shooters in the world for more than a decade, he is just as well known for his losses as his wins.
In 2004, Emmons was slated to compete in the 10m air rifle, 50m prone and 50m three positions events. In the prone event, Emmons took home the gold for his first Olympic medal.
However, in the last round of shooting in the three positions final, disaster struck as he held a commanding lead and was poised to win his second gold.
Emmons needed a score of just 7.2 on his final shot to win the gold. To put that score in perspective, he did not shoot lower than a 9.3 in his first nine shots of the final. However, Emmons recorded a score of 0.0 as he shot at the wrong target and fell from the top of the podium to eighth place.
At the 2008 Games, Emmons suffered another stupefying defeat in the three positions competition. Once again down to the final shot of the final round, he needed a score of 6.7 to win gold. Emmons’ finger slipped and he fired early, resulting in a score of 4.4 and a fourth place finish.
In 2012, Emmons finally landed on the podium in the three positions event but again fell short on his final shot. Emmons sat in second place in the competition with one shot to go. To win the silver medal he needed a 9.3, which he had scored in eight of his nine shots in the final. Emmons scored 7.6 and fell to third to take the bronze medal.
Despite his heartbreaking losses, Emmons has remained positive. “Life’s too short to dwell upon the negative,” he said. “There’s nothing I can change about the past. I can only move forward.”
In Rio, Emmons is set to compete in the 50m rifle three positions competition for a fourth time. He is currently the top ranked shooter in the world in the event and hopes to put his past mistakes behind him to capture the elusive three positions gold.