Tim Richards Column: Good Out of Bad
New Jersey native Matthew Emmons earned an accounting degree from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, and an advanced degree from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Over the years he won multiple Olympic and international shooting competitions. However, my article today concerns neither his accounting skills nor his competitive shooting victories, but a time when a momentary loss of concentration resulted in him losing an Olympic medal.
Ten years ago, the UK’s newspaper, Independent wrote about the event from the 2004 Olympic games this way, “Matthew Emmons is a trained accountant but he got his numbers terribly wrong… The American sharpshooter was just one shot away from a second Olympic gold medal when he fired at the wrong target in the final round.”
Until the 2004 Olympic mistake, Emmons had never shot at the wrong target during an international match. But although the sharp-shooter had dominated the 50-meter rifle three-position target event up to that point, he dropped from first place to eighth. He hit the target where he wanted, but since it was the wrong target he earned no points.
Emmons, shocked and humiliated still congratulated the event’s medal winners before leaving the arena. Before long he regained his positive attitude and joked, “…I'll live to shoot another day.”
Emmons’ fellow-shooter Michael Anti who won silver at the Olympics that year felt badly for his teammate and said, “He was by far the best shooter in the competition and in 25 years of shooting he’s the best I’ve ever seen, anywhere in the world. He shot great but had a mental error that cost him the gold medal.”
Anti was not the only Olympic medalist who showed compassion for Emmons. Most are shocked to learn that today Emmons says he is grateful he did not win the gold medal. It was through that experience he met Czech sharp-shooter Katerina Kurkova. She was kind and did her best to soften his loss. The two began a relationship and were married on June 30, 2007.
Emmons refused to be overcome by his mistake and later shared this perspective, “Failure and things of this sort- you can take it one of two ways. You can either let that hurt you and really affect the way you live your life in the future, or you can use that as an opportunity for growth.”
The Apostle Paul made a similar point when he wrote, “we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT)
Simply put, often the most difficult things we encounter end up being used by God for our ultimate good. Paul was not suggesting dreadful things are good, but that God frequently brings good out of bad. Matthew Emmons now knows winning his wife’s heart was far better than winning a gold medal. What happened to him demonstrates the truth of Paul’s words.