August 24, 2008 / 4:52 AM / 9 years ago

U.S. shooter gives Games most touching moment: Rogge

<p>Matthew Emmons of the U.S. is consoled by his wife Katerina, a gold medalist in shooting for the Czech Republic, after he lost in the men's 50m rifle 3 positions shooting final at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 17, 2008.Hannibal Hanschke</p>

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.

<p>Silver medallist Matthew Emmons of the U.S. hugs his wife, gold medal shooter Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic, after the men's 50m rifle prone final shooting competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 15, 2008.Desmond Boylan</p>

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."

<p>Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic celebrates with her husband, U.S. shooter Matt Emmons, after winning the gold medal in the women's 10m air rifle shooting competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 9, 2008.Hannibal Hanschke</p>

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)

For more stories visit our multimedia website "2008 Summer Olympics" here; and see our blog at blogs.reuters.com/china

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