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Matthew Emmons, Olympic champion shooter, retires with three medals

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Matthew Emmons, a shooter who may be better known for the Olympic gold medals he didn’t win rather than the one he did, has retired after four Olympics at age 38.

“Why retire a year before the next Olympics? Simply put, it’s time,” was posted on his Instagram. “Sure, there’s logic to it, but it’s also a feeling. It’s time to move on to other things, to exercise other talents and grow as a person.”

Emmons decided to retire in March, according to the post.

At Athens 2004, Emmons won the smallbore rifle, prone position title, using a borrowed gun after his was sabotaged. Two days later, he led the smallbore rifle, three positions final. But on the last shot, he misfired at another competitor’s target. Emmons blew a three-point lead, dropped to eighth and handed unknown Chinese Jia Zhanbo the title.

At the 2008 Beijing Games in the same event, Emmons had such a lead that he could have scored a 6.7 out of 10.9 on the last shot and still won. As he set up for the shot, his finger twitched and hit the trigger. He scored 4.4 and dropped to fourth place.

“Life’s too short to dwell upon the negative,” Emmons said then. “There’s nothing I can change about the past. I can only move forward.”

Emmons finished his career with an Olympic medal of every color, earned at back-to-back-to-back Games.

He overcame thyroid cancer, diagnosed in August 2010, to make the 2012 Olympic team and earn a bronze in the three positions event.

In 2007, he married Czech Olympic shooter Katerina Kurkova.

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The time has come to announce my retirement from sport shooting as an athlete. I actually decided in March, but only now was I able to get my family together and do it the way I wanted. The picture here not only shows all of my international medals, but more importantly, my family. These are the people who helped make it happen. Thanks mom and dad for, well, everything! I can never thank you enough for your guidance, encouragement, teaching me good morals and habits, support, and love. I hope I can be half the parent to my kids as you were to me. My wife, Katy, and my children – for always believing in me, encouraging me, and certainly giving me some good advice along the way. I also must thank a ton of other people. Shooting is mainly an individual sport, but success does not come alone. I may miss some people, but here’s the short list: my coaches: Paul Adamowski, Ed Shea, Randy Pitney, Dave Johnson, and Dan Durben. All of them helped shape me as an athlete and person. Thank you! My teammates and competitors. It was fun and you all helped make it that way. My sponsors: Anschutz, Bleiker, Pardini, Walther, Eley, RWS, Champion, AHG, Kustermann, Hitex, Shaklee, Salon Samui, among others. USA Shooting and the USOPC. Without those two organizations, none of this would have happened. The University Of Alaska Fairbanks. Drs. Hana Grégrová, Yuman Fong, and Ashok Shaha – these three saved my life and helped me get back to competing when I had thyroid cancer. Heather Linden and the staff at Sports Med in Colorado Springs – they put me back together after some serious physical issues before and after London. Because of them, my career not only continued, but got even better. Per Sandberg – my best friend. You’ve always been there in every situation and you’ve had such a positive impact on my life. The world needs more people like you. Lastly, thanks to all the fans out there! So why retire a year before the next Olympics? Simply put, it’s time. Sure, there’s logic to it, but it’s also a feeling. It’s time to move on to other things, to exercise other talents and grow as a person. I’m ready and excited for it. I had a great run. I shot for 23 years, 22 of which were

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Israel is first nation to qualify for 2020 Olympic baseball tournament

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Israel’s baseball team, which captivated at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, is headed to its first Olympics next summer.

Israel won a joint European-African tournament to become the first nation to qualify for baseball’s return to the Games after the sport was voted off the program after Beijing 2008.

It joins host nation Japan. Four more countries will qualify — two at the global Premier12 in November, another from the Americas and one more from a last-chance qualifier next year.

Israel, ranked 19th in the world, advanced via its best opportunity in Italy this week. It upset the highest-ranked European nations — the Netherlands (No. 8) and host Italy (No. 16) — and wrapped it up with an 11-1 win over South Africa on Sunday.

Its run came two years after Israel, then ranked 41st, beat South Korea, Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands and Cuba before bowing out of the World Baseball Classic. And one week after Israel finished fourth at the European Championship.

Israel’s roster at this week’s Olympic qualifier lacked many of the MLB veterans that it had at the World Baseball Classic. Israeli citizenship was not required at the WBC.

Its most recognizable player is Danny Valencia, an infielder who played parts of nine MLB seasons from 2010-18.

MLB players are unlikely to feature at the Tokyo Games, but minor leaguers are expected to be eligible as in the past.

The rest of the Olympic field is likely to be nations from North America (such as the U.S., Cuba, Mexico or Canada) or Asia (South Korea, Chinese Taipei) or Australia.

Baseball will not be on the 2024 Olympic program but could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

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J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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