Emmons won a gold medal in another shooting event in Athens, the men's 50-meter prone, but all the attention he got was for his "crossfire," as it is called, on his last shot in the 50-meter three-position event - the only time he's ever done that in his life.
The judge who first told Emmons the news quickly added, "That will make a hell of a story."
Right after the competition, Emmons joined fellow shooters at a beer garden right outside the hall. Czech shooter Katerina Kurkova, who had won a bronze medal herself, tapped him on the shoulder. They knew of each other but had never met.
"I can picture the whole thing still," Matt Emmons said. "I looked up, like: 'Holy smokes, she's talking to me.' "
"I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for the crossfire," Kurkova told him. "My dad and I feel that you are the real winner."
If he had become the first U.S. male shooter to win two Olympic gold medals - all he basically needed to do was hit the right target, he said - Emmons is pretty sure he would have retired after Athens. He never would have seen Kurkova at a later meet in Bangkok and chatted again, or started dating her the next year.
He takes the miscue in stride, knowing his shooting ability didn't let him down. He was on target, just at the wrong one. It happens to the best of them in this sport, he said.
He's not out for redemption in Beijing, he said, but his goals are clear.
"Some people say the spirit of the Games is just to participate," Emmons said. "That's not true."
As it is, he is part of the first family of the sport. The pair stay in the Czech section of the athletes' village but talk of Katy getting her U.S. citizenship, then quickly say the American anthem couldn't mean as much as the one she heard in her honor yesterday.
They split their time now between Colorado Springs, Colo., site of the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and the Czech Republic. Not bad for a kid who got his start with BB guns in Browns Mills.
"I grew up around guns," Emmons said. "Most of the men in my family were hunters. . . . I started hunting when I was 10 years old."
He was a baseball player at Pemberton Township High until his junior year, he said, when he decided it was time to concentrate on a sport he had just picked up.
Emmons said the attention from the miss is good for the sport. And his latest Olympic adventure began by hugging his champion wife. Redemption couldn't even feel as good.
Contact staff writer Mike Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.