Prone Showdown for Olympic Nomination Awaits McPhail & Emmons at World Cup Final

Prone Showdown for Olympic Nomination Awaits McPhail & Emmons at World Cup Final
Prone Showdown for Olympic Nomination Awaits McPhail & Emmons at World Cup Final
USA Shooting
USA Shooting

Colorado Springs, CO -( If the sport were football, this would be Alabama versus Auburn for the right to play for a national title.

As it were, the sport is shooting and thus it’s Matt Emmons versus Michael McPhail for the right to earn an Olympic Team bid. That’s what is at stake as the two American representatives get set for a Prone Rifle showdown Thursday in Munich, Germany at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Final featuring the top international shooters from around the globe.

The two Olympians have been the class of the rifle discipline in 2015 and represent the only Americans invited. 

With two victories this season, McPhail (U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit/Darlington, Wisconsin) enters the match with a four-point advantage over Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey), who owns a gold and silver medal this year. USA Shooting athletes can earn automatic Olympic nomination by earning the most points in their discipline (based on World Cup success in 2015) so long as it is above the required point threshold and both Olympic quotas have been secured. Both Vincent Hancock (Men’s Skeet/Eatonton, Georgia) and Keith Sanderson (Rapid Fire Pistol/Colorado Springs, Colorado) have already earned such distinction.

Either McPhail or Emmons will join them Thursday. Points will only be awarded for a top-three finish in Munich. In order for Emmons to walk away with the nomination, he’ll need to finish second or higher and hope that McPhail doesn’t medal. McPhail earns the nomination as long as he finishes higher than Emmons or if Emmons doesn’t medal at all. McPhail would even win if he was to finish second and Emmons finished first. There is one scenario where the two could tie on points and force an additional shoot-off later this year. That would happen if Emmons finishes second and McPhail earns bronze.

The Munich range had given McPhail fits up until this last year. Before a 2015 win on this range, he had earned just one medal (bronze) in eight opportunities. Despite problems there this year in which he finished 25th, Emmons has enjoyed much success on this range. In fact, the first of his 39 World Cup medals was earned in Munich back in 2001 when he won bronze in the Prone event. Overall, he’s earned five Prone medals on this range during his career. Despite all of Emmons’ success, this will be his first World Cup Finals appearance since 2009. Before that he made a habit of it, competing in every WCF from 2001-09 and winning 11 medals including three in Prone. This will be McPhail’s fourth appearance in a World Cup Final with finishes of second, fourth and seventh.

McPhail saw this season’s best performance during the January Rifle Selection Match, outshooting Emmons with qualifying scores of 632.4 and 630.7. His best international score this season was the 631.9 he shot on his way to winning World Cup USA in Fort Benning, Georgia. Of the nine matches they’ve been on the same line together since 2014, McPhail has earned the higher result five times.

Emmons got the best of McPhail when the two squared off again at the USA Shooting National Championships. Emmons was at his best posting scores of 631.9 and 631.4 on McPhail’s home range in Fort Benning. His highest international score of 632.0 helped push him to victory in Changwon, Korea.

“Really, there will be nothing more entertaining in our sport than to watch these two great competitors battle it out for an Olympic opportunity,” said Dave Johnson, USA Shooting’s Director of Operations. “Certainly, it’s not as fun for them as it will be for us, but anytime you get to watch the very best compete with so much on the line, it is something special. This is a result of two people who know what it takes to perform at the highest level and doing all they can to put themselves in spots just like this.” 

Athletes unable to earn nomination through the Olympic Points System will have the opportunity to earn Olympic Team nomination through the upcoming Olympic Trials.

Prone Rifle Qualification will begin Thursday at 5:00 am ET. Finals are set to begin at 7:45 am ET. You can watch how it all unfolds right here:

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