David Higgins staged a remarkable comeback in the final round of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore in men’s prone rifle, passing three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons to earn a nomination to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
In third place after the first day of competition, Higgins moved up one spot on Sunday to close to within 11.3 points of Emmons entering the final day. The U.S. Air Force Academy cadet passed Emmons the third and final day to make his first Olympic team.
On Monday, Emmons could muster only a score of 616.8 in the qualifying round, which left him out of the final, while Higgins scored a career-best 629.5, then went on to win the final and the eight-point bonus that went with it, giving him an aggregate score of 1,896.9, 9.4 points ahead of Emmons’ 1,887.5, good for second.
The result was a major step forward in Higgins’ career. He won a pair of national silver medals in the prone event as a junior in 2013, then added bronzes in prone at the 2014 spring selection match and in three-position at the 2014 national junior championships. He represented the United States in men’s prone at the 2014 world championships in Granada, Spain, where he finished 24th in his elimination relay.
Other U.S. smallbore shooters who have previously qualified to compete in Rio through the USA Shooting Olympic Points System are 2012 Olympian Michael McPhail in men’s prone and two-time Olympian Keith Sanderson in men’s rapid fire pistol.
Olympic Trials will continue through April 8 in Fort Benning, Georgia, to determine the Americans who will compete in Rio in four additional events.