Steve Emt’s Paralympic journey from UConn to Beijing
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - He shot hoops for the UCONN Huskies decades before he ‘shot rock’ for Team USA. Two years ago, he was seen talking to Michael Jordan in the ESPN’s docuseries “The Last Dance”. That brief encounter was during the Chicago Bulls well-known 1998 season. Now in 2022, wheelchair curler Steve Emt has a chance to go for gold at the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games.
The United States began Tuesday’s competition with a 2-4 record, but an 8-5 win over Switzerland, followed by an 8-7 victory over upstart Latvia now has Emt, David Samsa, team captain Matthew Thums, and newcomer Oyuna Uranchimeg back in playoff contention.
The Americans currently sit in fifth place behind Sweden, China, Canada and Slovakia. The Paralympic field includes nine teams, and only the top four advance to the medal round. The team’s next matchup will be 7:35 p.m. CST against the Swedes, who sit in first with a 6-2 record. The United States final round robin match against South Korea will take place hours later, 2:35 a.m. CST.
More than 30 years ago, Emt arrived as a walk-on to play basketball for Jim Calhoun at Connecticut. Although he didn’t see much time on the hardwood, he was a viable member of the practice squad. This was before the program would become a dynasty, with four national title banners hanging atop Gampel Pavilion. Years later, Emt lost his ability to walk after he was in a car crash, one in which he wasn’t wearing seatbelt.
As much as the crash altered his life, Emt would go looking for ways to compete. In 2010, he raced against other handcyclers in the New York City Marathon. Four years later, a friend introduced him to the mysterious sport of curling, and he hasn’t looked back. This year’s squad has already doubled its win total from the PyeongChang, South Korea Games of 2018. There, the team finished last with a 2-9 record.
Coverage of the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games can be seen on the Olympic Channel, USA Network, Peacock, and this weekend on KCBD-TV. The gold medal final will be held 2:35 a.m. CST Saturday.
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