The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team has continued to take shape over the past two months and now, with the conclusion of USA Shooting’s Olympic Points System for rifle/pistol, the team has its first Olympic champion in its 10th member, Matt Emmons.
Emmons claimed his spot on the team by winning the men’s 50-meter 3-position rifle competition at the ISSF World Cup Final on Sunday in Munich, ending the points system with 33 points and the right to fill Team USA’s sole 3-position rifle quota spot at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
As of now, Emmons is the most decorated member of the 2016 Team USA, with Rio marking his fourth Olympic appearance and his quest for a fourth Olympic medal. Shooter Keith Sanderson, who qualified in rapid fire pistol Friday, will make his third appearance in Rio, while open water swimmer Haley Anderson is the only other medalist on the team, having earned silver in 2012.
Emmons’ accomplishments in 3-position rifle this season include a win at nationals, a world cup silver medal in Changwon, South Korea, and a bronze in Ft. Benning, Georgia, along with his latest win in Munich, which marked his sixth career World Cup Final win. His past wins came in 2002, 2004 and 2007-09.
The 34-year-old father was close to qualifying for the Olympics in men’s 50-meter rifle prone earlier this week, but in a season-long battle between him and Michael McPhail that came down to the last event of the season, McPhail won World Cup Final gold to end with 47 points in the qualifying system to Emmons’ 33. Emmons will try to fill Team USA’s second prone spot through the 2016 Olympic Team Selection Competition in April 2016.
Emmons’ two best Olympic finishes have come in prone – a gold at the Athens 2004 Games and silver at the Beijing 2008 Games – but he has continued to improve his 3-position placement in Olympic competition, going from eighth in 2004 to fourth in 2008 before finally earning bronze at the London 2012 Games.
Emmons, a Brown Mills, New Jersey, native, currently resides in the Czech Republic with his wife, 2008 Czech Olympic champion Katerina Kurkova. The two met at the 2004 Olympics, married in 2007 and now have two children. Kurkova-Emmons has also competed at three Games and earned one medal of each color.
Joining Emmons on the Olympic team is pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher, table tennis player Yue “Jennifer” Wu, open water swimmers Jordan Wilimovsky, Sean Ryan and Haley Anderson, triathletes Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True, and shooters McPhail and Sanderson.