Qiu Jian of China celebrates on the podium during the awarding ceremony of men's 50m rifle 3 positions of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Shooting event in Beijing, China, Aug. 17, 2008. Qiu Jian grabbed the gold with a total of 1272.5 points.
Qiu Jian of China wins gold with a total of 1272.5 points in men's 50m rifle 3 positions of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Shooting event in Beijing, China, Aug. 17, 2008.
Matthew Emmons of the United States competes during the men's 50m rifle 3 positions final of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Shooting event in Beijing, China, Aug. 17, 2008. Matthew Emmons won the 4th with a total of 1270.3.
The scene was reminiscent to the one four years ago in Athens.
American shooter Matthew Emmons just needed a 6.6 to be crowned in the men's 50-meter rifle three positions at the Beijing Olympic Games.
But he made a 4.4.
Gone was the gold, even the silver and the bronze.
The title went to Chinese shooter Qiu Jian, with 1,272.5 points, and Emmons even slipped to the fourth, as Jury Sukhorukov from Ukraine took the silver with 1,272.4 and world record holder Rajmond Debevec from Slovenia the bronze with 1,271.7 points.
Advancing into the final with 1,175 points, one point behind leading Debevec, the 27-year-old American shooter got a 9.7 in the first shot, while the 45-year-old Slovenian shot a surprising 7.7 and was hence dropped to second.
Then leading Emmons further pulled away from other finalists by making seven of the following eight shots above or equalling 10.
And the 33-year-old Qiu experienced some ups and downs with his scores fluctuating from 8.8 to 10.6. But originally ranked fourth with 1,173 points, he managed to climb to the third.
Before the last shot, top four were Emmons, Sukhorukov, Qiu and Debevec, with their gaps 3.3 points, 0.1 points and 1.6 points respectively.
Sukhorukov fired in the last shot, a 9.8.
Debevec made a 10.8.
Qiu, the second to last to open fire, collected a 10.0, surpassing his Ukrainian rival.
It was the moment for Emmons.
Four years ago in Athens, the shooter boasted an obvious advantage and was just one shot away from the gold. He needed just a 7.2 to win his second gold in that Olympics, before having his last bullet plunged into another shooter's target and seeing the gold won by Chinese shooter Jia Zhanbo.
This time, he needed just a moderate 9.2 to break the Olympic record of 1,275.1 by Debevec and a 6.6 to beat Qiu and win the gold, and everyone held breath to see the man staging a comeback.
The target was right.
But spectators let out an exclamation.
Like enchanted, he notched up a stunning 4.4 and plunged to the fourth.
After several seconds of bewilderment, audiences cheered and applauded for the lucky Chinese champion, who himself gazed at the screen of score in disbelief.
"I didn't know what had happened," he said, "hearing the spectators' cheering, I felt maybe I got the silver, but my coach told me I got the gold."
Without many glitzy titles, Qiu said he hadn't expected to win.
"I just wanted to focus on myself and fire every shot well. Before the final, I knew I was not very far behind the lead, but I needed to fight a war with myself. My expectation was just to get on the podium."
Of course he was very excited. "My requirement for myself before the competition was just to reflect my normal level. I didn't have very high expectations. For the first several shots, I was indeed nervous and I tried to adjust with deep breaths."
Both the silver and bronze medalists felt sorry for Emmons.
"It is the most accidental case. I shot zero point once in a World Cup in Russia. I'm sorry for him," said Sukhorukov, who was ranked 26th in the event four years ago in Athens.
"I know every human shooter can make a mistake. My friend's mistake was more than it should have been. He's very nervous maybe because of what happened in Athens, where he missed his last shot. Maybe he didn't have good concentration," said Debevec.
Debevec had thought that he would be "out" with a bad start. "But after the fourth shot I said to myself 'keep going and keep climbing up'. With a 10.8, that was my best final shot, and also my friend shot a 4.4 and I'm very sorry for what happened to Matt..."
Sitting behind to watch the competition, Emmons' wife Katerina, who just won a gold and a silver from the Beijing Olympics in rifle events, opened her mouth in astonishiment, before rushing over to comfort her husband.
Emmons threw himself into the arms of Katerina and shed tears.