BEIJING (Reuters) - Olympics chief Jacques Rogge on Sunday singled out the stoic attitude in defeat of U.S. shooter Matt Emmons as the most touching moment of the Beijing Games.
Emmons threw away a gold medal on his final shot when he nervously pulled the trigger a split second too soon.
It was a stunning blunder that echoed his defeat in 2004 when he lost a gold on the last shot when hitting the wrong target.
Rogge also said the sight of Georgian and Russian athletes embracing on the podium while their countries were locked in conflict was an embodiment of the Olympic spirit.
"I think this kind of sportsmanship and brotherhood is really remarkable," he said.
But what deeply moved Rogge was Emmons -- even if he confessed to reporters he could not remember the shooter's name.
"What touched me most was the attitude of this American shooter," Rogge told a press conference wrapping up the Games.
He recalled how Emmons picked the wrong target in Athens and threw away his gold medal chance at the last moment. "This is something already very painful," Rogge said.
Emmons may have missed the target but he found love in Greece. Czech shooter Katerina Kurkova came up to commiserate with him afterwards and their romance blossomed from there.
His wife won the first gold of the Beijing Games and Rogge said "I saw them hugging together and that was a nice moment."
But the fates then struck Emmons once more.
"Again leading and being very close to gold, he took his rifle, put his hand on the trigger and, for some reason, the trigger went off," Rogge said.
Hailing Emmons' resilience, the International Olympic Committee chief said he admired the U.S. shooter for saying: "This is a big failure. I take responsibility but I will come back and I will win gold."
Rogge said: "This is the true spirit of the Olympic Games. The Games is not only about winning, not only about being triumphant. It is about the struggle of every athlete every day to achieve his or her own limits and having this resilience.
"Let's hope he does come back."
(Editing by Jeremy Laurence)