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RHODE Kimberly
RHODE Kimberly

Kimberly RHODE

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California’s shooting star

Double trap and skeet shooter Kimberly Rhode is the first athlete – male or female – to win medals at six consecutive Olympic Summer Games in any sport, a feat she achieved between Atlanta 1996 and Rio 2016 and which only Italian luger Armin Zöggeler has equalled in the Winter Games.

Shooting’s youngest Olympic champion

Born in Whittier, California, Rhode discovered her passion for shooting as a young girl, on family safaris to Africa. Specialising in double trap, she won her first world title at the age of only 13 and had barely turned 17 when she became the youngest ever gold-medallist in her sport, dominating the qualification round and the final at Atlanta 1996 with respective scores of 108 and 141 points.

A new challenge

After winning bronze behind Sweden’s Pia Hansen and Italy’s Deborah Gelisio at Sydney 2000, Rhode became the last ever women’s Olympic double trap champion at Athens 2004, beating the Republic of Korea’s Lee Bona to the gold medal by a solitary point.

The event was then dropped from the Olympic programme and replaced by skeet. Reflecting on the enforced change, the American commented: “Switching events was one of the more challenging things in my career. I was competing against people who had been doing it 20 or 30 years.”

A first skeet medal

Undeterred, Rhode made a seamless transition to skeet, in which shooters stand in a fixed position and take aim at clays launched by two traps in a specific order. After tying with Italy’s Chiara Cainero and Germany’s Christine Brinker in the Beijing 2008 final with an Olympic record score of 93, Rhode eventually had to settle for silver after two shoot-offs, with Cainero taking the gold.

More to come

Her medal collection complete, Rhode set her sights on winning another Olympic title at London 2012. Her plans to do so received a major setback in 2009, when her trusty Perazzi shotgun, which had accompanied her at her first four Games, was stolen. Her fans clubbed together to buy her a new gun, and though she and her favourite weapon, which she nicknamed “Old Faithful”, were reunited a year later, she chose to compete with the new gun in London. The decision proved to be inspired.

Rhode was in typically majestic form in the British capital, winning gold with a joint world-record score of 99 (out of 100). It was the third time the 33-year-old had topped the Olympic podium, sixteen years after winning her first shooting gold at Atlanta 1996.

Reacting to her fifth Olympic medal, she said: “I don't think it has really sunk it yet. It has just been a whirlwind of emotions. I want to run, scream, cry and jump up and down. I just don't know which one to do first.” Asked as to the secret of her prolonged success, she replied: “I don’t think it ever becomes old hat. It’s really about the journey.”

Gunning for Rio

“Shooting is a sport that you can have a long career at,” said Rhode, contemplating what her future might hold after London. “The oldest medallist in history was Oscar Swan, and he was 72 when competed in his last Olympics. I think I have a few more Olympics left in me.”

After winning gold at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Rhode booked a place at her sixth Olympic Games in commanding style, winning the US trials in Arkansas in May 2016 by a whole 14 points from her nearest challenger. “Six Games – it’s incredible! I’ve been training hard since the end of May, knowing that I’m on my way to Rio,” she commented. “Watching my sport grow has been an amazing experience.” 

Six of the best

The American began her bid for a sixth Olympic medal by hitting all but three of 75 targets in the qualification round – good enough for second place. Fourth in the semi-final, she took on China’s Weng Mei in the bronze medal match, with Italian duo Chiara Cainero and Diana Bacosi contesting the gold, which went to Bacosi.

Each hitting all 15 targets in their shootoff, Rhode and Weng were only separated in a tie-break, with the American edging her opponent 7-6 to make it six consecutive Olympic medals in individual events on five continents, an achievement unprecedented in the history of the Summer Games.

“To me the Olympic Games is all about overcoming the highs and lows, obstacles, the good and the bad,” said the record-breaking Rhode. “And I’ve always said that bronze is difficult, while gold is easy. I’m going to come back. I’m going to try and contest my seventh Games and I hope they won’t be my last.”



Shooting -  Skeet (75 Targets) Women
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Shooting - Skeet (75 Targets) Women

Chiara Cainero of Italy (Silver), Diana Bacosi of Italy (Gold) and Kim Rhode of the United States of America (Bronze) pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for Women's Skeet on Day 7 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Olympic Shooting Centre on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Shooting -  Skeet (75 Targets) Women
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Shooting - Skeet (75 Targets) Women

Kim Rhode of the United States of America (Bronze) competes in the finals of Women's Skeet on Day 7 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Olympic Shooting Centre on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images

Shooting review - Rhode rifles her way into history

London 2012 - The London 2012 Shooting competition was memorable for many reasons, but none more so than the exploits of Kimberly Rhode, who blasted her way into USA Olympic history at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
Shooting Skeet (75 Targets) Women
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Shooting Skeet (75 Targets) Women

Ning Wei CHN (Silver), Kimberly Rhode USA (Gold) and Danka Bartekova SVK (Bronze) pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women's Skeet Shooting at The Royal Artillery Barracks on Day 2 of London 2012 Olympic Games. London, England, 29 July 2012.
Getty Images / Lars Baron

Rhode makes USA shooting history in women's skeet final

London 2012 - Kimberly Rhode blasted her way into Olympic history as the first USA athlete to win individual medals at five different Olympic Games when she triumphed in the Skeet. Ning Wei of China took silver at the Royal Artillery Barracks, while Danka Bartekova of Slovakia came third.
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Sydney 2000-Shooting-RHODE Kimberly (USA) 3rd


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