RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail shot at an Olympic medal was a bit off the mark as the 34-year old Darlington native placed 19th in the qualification round of the 50-Meter Prone Rifle competition at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games on Friday, Aug. 12.
It was a tough day for the American shooters as McPhail and teammate David Higgins battled a tricky swirling wind, described as left-to-right and coming back around, which got worse throughout the 50-minute affair. Those that did well made the adjustments or quickened their pace.
In his second Olympic appearance, McPhail finished 19th with a 622.0, narrowly missing out on the finals by 2.8 points. The top eight advanced to the finals with the cutoff at 624.8. Higgins struggled in his Olympic debut to a 617.7 to finish 40th.
McPhail was hoping to become the first American to medal in the event since Matthew Emmons claimed silver in Beijing in 2008 and gold in Athens in 2004.
On usashooting.org, Emmons described to the conditions McPhail and Higgins had to deal with today. “The wind flows like water. If you think of it as a river and how water flows over barriers and rocks or whatever, you can get an idea of what it is going to do on the range. So you can think about, ‘Okay, I’ve got to watch out for this and think about that’ and you come up with a plan and execute it.”
Henri Junghaenel secured gold in the event, pocketing Germany’s second rifle shooting gold medal in two days. The 28-year old German athlete led throughout the whole final, zeroing in after a disappointing qualification (624.8 points, eighth place) to finish atop of the podium with 209.5 points, which is a new final Olympic record. Junghaenel upset Republic of
Korea’s Kim Jonhyun, now a two-time Olympic silver medalist. Russia’s Kirill Grigorian pocketed the bronze.
McPhail, the son of Dennis and Joyce McPhail of Darlington, is stationed at Fort Benning with his wife, Kari, who is a graduate of Black Hawk High School, and their two children Addison, 5, and Mason, six months.