Ok, so maybe I’m not the down-at-the-mouth Olympics curmudgeon I think I am. Certainly, when it comes to women and guns, this every 4-year politico-athletic extravaganza, and any other shooting venue featuring the female form, can get my undivided attention.
Kim Rhode, with her gold medal win in skeet shooting at the 2012 London games, has become the first woman to win three gold medals in Olympic shooting and the first American athlete to win five consecutive medals in an individual event in five consecutive Olympic games.
Rhode hasn’t missed much since winning a gold medal in Atlanta when she was 16. She got a bronze in Sydney, gold in Athens and silver in Beijing. By chronological and mathematical standards, Rhode now stands alone in the America’s Olympic pantheon.
“The journey for this one was probably my most challenging,” Rhode said. She had a hard time even getting to London. Flights from Los Angeles were canceled two straight days, so she missed the U.S. team’s training sessions in Denmark. Her body didn’t have the planned time to adjust to European time. In the precise world Rhode competes in, the tiniest mental twitch can ruin your entire day.
Then there were bigger issues on the road to London. Like a breast cancer scare, and having to adjust to a new shotgun. That may not seem like a big deal, but Rhode had pulled the same trigger for 18 years.
A lot of prodigies have vanished before making one Olympics. Rhode didn’t waste her skills. She’d get up at 4 a.m. to do her homework and leave time for after-school training. She’d shoot 500-1,000 rounds a day, seven days a week. She’s long out of school, but the grind’s the same.
She set an Olympic record with 74 points in the qualifying round, and tied the world record for points in a final with 99.
The oldest medal winner in Olympic history was Oscar Swahn. As all shooting fans know, he got a silver in the running deer, double shots competition. “He was 72,” Rhode said. “I’m 33.” Penn Live