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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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MORE: Kim Rhode triumphs over theft on road to record-breaking Olympic bid

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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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Kim Rhode triumphs over theft on road to record-breaking Olympic bid

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Kim Rhode arrived at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, missing a few things.

The six-time Olympic shooting medalist had nearly all her equipment stolen prior to her trip earlier this month after her bag was nabbed from her father’s car.

“I lost everything but my vest and my gun,” Rhode said in Lima (noting with a smile she has seen worse: her gun was stolen a few years ago, though it was later returned). This time, “we’re all frantically trying to piece it back together, somewhat. … At the end of the day, you just have to kinda roll with it.”

It would take more than theft to rattle Rhode, who remains one of her sport’s top athletes 23 years after her first Olympic gold medal at the Atlanta Games.

The continental skeet title she won at Pan Ams (new equipment in tow) built upon a string of strong results since the last Olympics, including a world silver medal in 2018. Earlier this year, she became the first woman to win four straight World Cups in shooting.

At the Tokyo Olympics, Rhode could do something unprecedented: win seven medals in as many consecutive Olympics.

Rhode remembered a lot from her first trip to the Games as a 17-year-old carrying a pager. She described the volume of the crowd chanting “U-S-A” at the Opening Ceremony and the hum of the audience watching her compete, “almost like they were helping us to pull the trigger each and every time.” She recalled the athlete bowling alley, where both the balls and shoes were adorned with an Olympic flame symbol.

After winning gold in double trap, Rhode went back to high school life in El Monte, Calif. She couldn’t have known then that five more Olympics would follow. That one day, she’d have an Olympic medal from every continent in which the Games have been contested. That at 40, she’d still be at the top of her sport.

“I don’t think you ever get over the Olympics,” she said. “I don’t think you ever get used to it. It really takes on a life of its own.”

Rhode has been a constant in a sport that continues to evolve and change, and noted the technological advances that pushed it forward in the last several years: “you are seeing a lot more on the technical side of the stocks, more of these specialized grips,” she said, and “more people going with multiple lenses.”

Her competitors changed, too. Rhode described younger teammates showing her how to take a live photo and set up an Instagram account. “I’m kind of archaic in that sense,” she said with a laugh.

Her competitive spirit remains unchanged. While Tokyo would mark a milestone, Rhode has no plans of slowing down.

“I think I still have a few more in me,” she said, noting she’d like to compete in front of a home crowd again when the Olympics return to Los Angeles in 2028. “I definitely don’t see a need to stop. … Some of the shooters tend to be a lot older than most of the other Olympians because we have no shelf life. That’s the great thing about us.”

Rhode competed at the London Olympics not knowing she was pregnant with son Carter.

What followed was what she described as a difficult pregnancy and recovery. Her bones separated during the pregnancy, and she had her gall bladder removed after the birth.

The complications affected her ability to walk and complete endurance-related activities, which she continues to face. These days, Rhode said she still can’t run a mile, but in preparation for Tokyo, she is working with a physical therapist and nutritionist.

After Pan Ams, Rhode planned to add more strength training. “At the end of the day, I’m slowly but surely making small strides to get back to where I’m at,” she said.

Carter, now 6, speaks three languages and sometimes helps Rhode during practice, pulling for her before she shoots and collecting shells. He was on hand when Rhode earned a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, but he isn’t overly impressed (yet) by his mom’s long list of accomplishments.

“I don’t think he grasps the whole picture of what it is that I’m doing,” she said. “I think that’ll come a little bit later.”

She stores Olympic mementos at her parents’ home, a collection of bags from each Games stuffed with clothing, pins and other paraphernalia, and vacuum-sealed.

“My family is running out of room with all the bags,” she said, noting she isn’t sure when she’ll open them up and go through what’s inside.

Maybe after she collects a few more.

“To have had that opportunity so many times is amazing,” she said of her Olympic career so far. “I feel very, very fortunate.”

MORE: Georgian shooter qualifies for 9th Olympics

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Fan voting starts for U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame

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The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced finalists Monday for the organization’s Hall of Fame.

Fans can vote as part of a process that selects five Olympians, three Paralympians and one team from a final list of 15 Olympians, nine Paralympians and three teams. Other voters include U.S. Olympians and Paralympians, national governing bodies and multisport organizations, the USOPC board, select members of the media, and USOPC corporate partners.

The nominees are:

Olympic:

  • Gary Anderson, shooting: Gold medalist in 1964 and 1968
  • Greg Barton, canoe/kayak: First American to win kayaking gold (1988)
  • Laura Berg, softball: Center fielder, gold medalist in 1996, 2000 and 2004
  • Anne Donovan, basketball: Center, gold medalist in 1984 and 1998
  • Lisa Leslie, basketball: Second player to win four Olympic golds (1996-2008)
  • Nastia Liukin, gymnastics: 2008 all-around gold medalist, five total medals
  • John Mayasich, ice hockey: Gold medalist in 1960, leading scorer on silver-medal team in 1956
  • Misty May-Treanor, beach volleyball: Gold medalist (with Kerri Walsh Jennings) in 2004, 2008 and 2012
  • Jonny Moseley, freestyle skiing: Gold medalist in moguls in 1998
  • Apolo Anton Ohno, short-track speed skating: Eight medals in 2002, 2006 and 2010
  • Mark Reynolds, sailing: Gold medalist in 1992 and 2000
  • Angela Ruggiero, ice hockey: Gold medalist in 1998, other medals in 2002, 2006 and 2010, all-time leader in games played
  • John Smith, wrestling: Gold medalist in 1988 and 1992
  • Dara Torres, swimming: 12 medals from 1984 (age 17) to 2008 (age 41)
  • Brenda Villa, water polo: Gold medalist in 2012, other medals in 2000, 2004 and 2008

Paralympic:

  • Cheri Blauwet, track and field: Seven medals in three Paralympics, several major marathon wins
  • Candace Cable, track and field, Nordic skiing, alpine skiing: First American woman to win medals in summer and winter
  • Muffy Davis, cycling, alpine skiing: Four medals in skiing before switching to cycling and winning three golds
  • Bart Dodson, track and field: Eight gold medals in 1992 alone, 20 medals total over five Paralympics
  • Greg Mannino, alpine skiing: Six gold medals and 12 total over five Paralympics
  • Erin Popovich, swimming: 14 gold medals and 19 total over three Paralympics
  • Marla Runyan, Para track and field, Para-cycling, Olympic track and field: Six Paralympic medals, first legally blind American to compete in Olympics
  • Chris Waddell, alpine skiing, track and field: 12 Paralympic medals in skiing, one in track and field
  • Trischa Zorn, swimming: 52 medals, including 38 gold, over seven Paralympics

Team:

  • 1996 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball: Led by Leslie (19.5 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game), Katrina McClain (8.2 rebounds per game) and Teresa Edwards (7.3 assists per game)
  • 1998 U.S. Olympic women’s ice hockey: Upset Canada 3-1 in final, team included Ruggiero, Cammi Granato and Tricia Dunn
  • 2010 U.S. Olympic four-man bobsled: Won gold medal with driver Steven Holcomb and push athletes Steve Mesler, Curtis Tomasevicz and Justin Olsen

Fan voting continues at TeamUSA.org until Sept. 3.

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