In his Olympic debut three years ago, Michael McPhail missed out on the final round of competition in men’s 50-meter rifle prone by a mere three tenths of a point – fractions of an inch in the sport of shooting. Now, he has a shot at redemption.
McPhail, now 33, secured his spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Thursday afternoon when he won gold at the ISSF World Cup Final in Munich. The win earned McPhail 10 points in USA Shooting’s Olympic Points System, which he closed out with 47 total points from his performances across the six events that comprised the points system.
With his win, McPhail becomes the first U.S. shooter to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
A Sgt. First Class in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, McPhail is coming off of a successful 2015 season that ensures his place as one of the top prone shooters in the world. In addition to his World Cup Final win, he earned two world cup wins – one of which gained the U.S. a second quota spot at the 2016 Olympic Games – and silver at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
The Darlington, Wisconsin, native won the first of his 40 career world cup medals 14 years ago in Munich – the site of his latest win – and has now earned six total prone medals on this range during his career. Thursday marked his first World Cup Final win in the event, with previous performances at the event of second, fourth and seventh.
Teammate Matt Emmons finished seventh in Munich, closing the qualifying period with 33 points. Since the U.S. has two quota spots in men’s prone, Emmons will have another opportunity to qualify for the Olympic team through the 2016 Olympic Team Selection Competition in April of 2016.
McPhail and Emmons have been competitive all season, squaring off 10 times since 2014. McPhail earned the higher result six times.
As the eighth member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, McPhail joins pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher, table tennis player Yue “Jennifer” Wu, open water swimmers Jordan Wilimovsky, Sean Ryan and Haley Anderson, and triathletes Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True.
The ISSF World Cup Final continues through Sept. 7. This week, a U.S. athlete is guaranteed to qualify for Rio in men's rapid fire pistol, while another has the opportunity to qualify in men's 3-position rifle.