Rifle's Romeo and Juliet

Warning: the following item makes no mention of Michael Phelps, men's or women's gymnastics, Michael Phelps, USA Basketball, Michael Phelps, beach volleyball, or international scandals, contrived or otherwise (or Michael Phelps).

A few weeks ago, FPM's Pat Imig told us about Katerina and Matt Emmons, a pair of Olympic shooters who met during the Summer Games in Athens four years ago and were married in June, 2007. Shooting for the Czech Republic, Katerina captured the first gold medal of the Beijing games when she won the 10 meter air rifle. She followed that with a silver in the 50 meter three positions rifle.

Matt, an American who lost his chance at two golds when he shot the wrong target in Athens, took silver yesterday in the men's 50 meter rifle prone position. He has a chance to equal his wife's record tomorrow in the 50 meter three positions competition. For the sake of marital harmony, I know I'm cheering for him. ("Matt, honey, could you polish the medals, please? Both of mine are getting a little dusty.") To be fair, Matt won gold and Katerina bronze in Athens, so exactly what the score is depends on whether you are counting golds or total medals.

Meanwhile the Emmons have become media darlings, the TomKat and Brangelina of the Olympic Village (MattKat? Matterina? Help me out here.) Olympic shooters usually manage to dodge the swarming paparazzi, but the "Rifle Romance" has climbed to Spunky Gymnast levels on the adorable scale (just one step below Puppies and Cooing Baby). After all, when you are first introduced in Athens and your second date is in Bangkok, that's not just meet cute, it's meet jet set. Not bad for a guy from Jersey and a girl from Plzen.

Everyone roots for newlywed couples anyway, and this "Green Card" meets "The Rifleman" has set the press corps abuzz. Best headline I've seen so far has to be "Shot through the heart."

We've seen Olympic marriages before. Al Joyner was a triple jump champion but was maybe better known as the late Florence Griffith-Joyner's husband and coach. Bart Conner and and Nadia Comaneci married 15 years after she scored perfect 10s in Montreal. And throw an ice cube at any Winter Games, and you'll hit a married figure skating pair. But having a husband and wife competing in the same sport for different countries might be unprecedented. If only there were mixed doubles, then things could get really interesting.

Shooting, like archery, equestrian and sailing, is a sport for athletes of all ages. Oscar Swahn, the oldest Olympic champion ever, won a gold medal in 1920 when he was 72. So we could be hearing about Team Emmons for awhile. I hope it works out because let's face it, a domestic disturbance between these two could turn into "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" pretty quickly (I know, I know, enough with the Brangelina already).

So many questions come to mind. To answer a few, they live in both countries, they are staying together in the Czech quarters in the Olympic Village, she's a Libra and he's a Pisces. So why aren't they staying in the American quarters? And will there be any pressure from either side to switch to the other's team? Can you imagine the situation if, say, Liu Xiang was dating Allyson Felix?

And now a question for the FPM Investigative Unit in the Summer Games of 2028: What nation will the offspring of Team Emmons represent?

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