It would have been understandable if Matt Emmons had a bad first Olympic experience. The way things had been going, he seemed destined for that.

First, someone vandalized his good gun in April. Then, while preparing for the men's 50-meter prone rifle event, he caught a bad cold. Before yesterday's final, his heart was beating so fast he didn't know if he could calm himself, hold the rifle straight and shoot with accuracy.

He did it, though. He remained composed and focused. His reward was an Olympic gold medal.

"How's it supposed to feel? I don't know," the New Jersey native said. "I probably won't realize it until I get home."

During an international event in April, Emmons discovered someone had ruined his gun. Judging the damage, he figured someone had taken a screwdriver to it. He took a shot, and the shell stayed lodged in his gun.

So the Alaska resident had to borrow another, and you should know that shooters value their guns like young girls value their teddy bears. It was an adjustment, but he found the comfort with the new rifle.

"This one's amazing," he said of the borrowed gun. "It shoots better than the one I have. So it's a blessing in disguise."

Emmons is the first American in 40 years to qualify for three Olympic events. He did not reach the final in the air rifle event, but he has a chance to earn another medal in the three-position rifle.

-- From News Services

Much had gone wrong lately for Matt Emmons, but a gold medal should help.