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Back problems plague Olympic target shooter
Olympics » In his third Olympics, problems continue to haunt Colorado Springs resident.

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"It actually felt good coming into today," Emmons said. "My back felt good. My body felt good. It’ s just that when I got in position my body wasn’t listening."

Keep in mind a shooter stands and shoots in a near motionless position over a 105-minute period during qualifying. The stiff shooting jacket helps but back braces aren’t allowed.

"I’m using so much muscle to try and hold still," Emmons said. "Imagine you’re tensing your bicep for 30 minutes, it’s going to fire up and you won’t be able to tense it at all. That’s what my back’s doing."

The one concession is that he’s back at the Olympics. People remember him more for shooting at the wrong target in Athens and shooting too soon in Beijing - both on last shots that could have won him gold - than they do for his gold medal in 50-meter rifle prone in Athens.

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And Olympic shooting is huge. The shooting grounds are in the far southeast corner of London at the Royal Artillery Barracks, housing for the British Army. Each building converted into a shooting range is decorated with giant blue or red circles to resemble very large bullet holes.

While the Games’ biggest flaw to date has been swaths of empty seats in "sold-out" venues, on Monday fans were turned away at shooting qualifying.

"I live for this," Emmons said. "I love being part of it. I live the Olympic ideals every day. This is what I build towards. It’s special."

It will be even more special if he medals next Monday. Jason Parker is the U.S. medal hope in that event, but it should be easier on Emmons’ back. Prelims are only 40 shots instead of 60, and the gun is heavier, which should help his balance.



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