Sharpshooting Rhode wins record sixth medal in six Games
When US shooter Kim Rhode won the bronze medal in women's skeet shooting on 12 August, she also fired herself into the Olympic record books.
Not only did she join an elite group of six Olympians to have amassed six medals at different editions of the Games; more impressive still, she became the first woman in history to win medals at six consecutive Olympics.
She made her Games debut a full 20 years ago, as a 17-year-old at Atlanta 1996, where she won gold in the women’s double trap to become the youngest ever Olympic champion in her sport.
At Sydney 2000 she took bronze behind Sweden’s Pia Hansen and Italy’s Deborah Gelisio. Four years on in Athens she became the last ever women’s Olympic double trap champion, 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. “Switching events was one of the more challenging things in my career,” reflected Rhode. “I was competing against people who had been doing it 20 or 30 years.”
Undeterred, the American made a seamless transition to her new event, 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, as Cainero clinched the gold.
At London 2012, she won her third gold medal, equalling the world record of 99 out of a 100, despite having had her favourite gun stolen, and having to use one that was donated by fans.
With a record six medals in the bag, there is every chance she will be seeking to extend her streak. “Shooting is a sport in which you can have a long career,” she explained recently. “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 left in me.”
"When I started the Olympics I was 16 in 1996, I am 37 now and a mom, and who would have thought, it's been an incredible journey," concluded Rhode.