Rifle shooting ace qualifies for Olympics after recovering from thyroid cancer

An American rifle shooter and two-time Olympian has qualified for a third go at the Games, even though he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer just 10 months ago.

Matt Emmons had to miss the October 2010 International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup Final because his doctors had discovered a carcinoma in his thyroid gland just a month earlier, according to Shooting USA.

Nevertheless, the athlete will be representing the U.S. in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the source said.

A New Jersey native and gold medalist in the 50-meter rifle prone event at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Emmons had battled through adversity both on and off the range.

In 2008, he suffered a surprise loss in the men's 50-meter rifle three-position event. The Associated Press (AP) reported that Emmons led the competition until the final shot, when a misdirected bullet went wide of the mark, leaving him with a fourth-place finish.

Similarly, in 2004 he led the event until the final shot but unintentionally fired at the wrong target, ruining his chances of standing on the podium. However, he still won a silver medal in the 50-meter rifle prone event, the source noted.

Now, after having overcome thyroid cancer, Emmons is looking forward to his third chance at representing the U.S. on the international stage.

"I can't wait to have the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games next year. I have a lot to work on between now and then, but I'm really looking forward to it," he told Shooting USA.

The AP stated that shortly after his diagnosis, the athlete had a complete thyroidectomy, which is a common treatment for thyroid cancer.

There is no word on whether Emmons also underwent chemotherapy or radioactive iodine ablation, but, like nearly all individuals who have their thyroid gland removed, he will most likely need to take synthetic thyroid hormones for the rest of his life.

The National Institutes of Health confirms that thyroid hormone replacement is almost always required after a total thyroidectomy.

Men are only one-third as likely as women to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.