Friday, August 31, 2012

kim rhode, olympic straight-shooter.

kim rhode [pronounced roh-dee] did at the london 2012 games
what no u.s. olympic champion had done before:

she became the first american athlete to win
an individual medal in five straight olympics.

the 33yo native californian won gold in skeet shooting,
tying her own world record & setting an olympic record
for the finals with an almost perfect score:
she hit 99 of 100 4-inch clay targets flying at about 60mph —

which was eight shots better than silver medalist wei ning of china,
nine shots better than bronze medalist danka bartekova of slovakia, &
seven shots better than the prior record of 93 targets.

rhode's lone miss came 65 consecutive hits into the finals, during a rainstorm.
she had also set the olympic record in the preliminary round, hitting 74 of 75.
her win means she is the first woman to earn three gold medals in shooting,
& the eighth u.s. woman to earn five or more individual medals.

rhode won the gold in double trap shooting at 17yo
— the youngest person ever to medal in the sport —
in her first olympics in atlanta, 1996.
she earned the bronze in barcelona in 2000,
& recaptured the gold in athens in 2004.

in 2008 in beijing, double trap was replaced with skeet shooting.
rhode switched sports & earned the silver.

during her first four olympic games, rhode had used "old faithful,"
her competition shotgun for 18 years.
but just after beijing, the gun was stolen from her truck.
anonymous donors bought her a new gun within weeks of the theft.
eventually, old faithful was found in an unrelated search of a parolee's house,
but rhode had already adapted to her new shotgun, so she retired her older weapon.

that wasn't the only stumbling block between beijing & london:
rhode had a benign two-inch tumor removed from her breast two years ago, &
earlier this year, her husband lost his passport & had to have it replaced,
& her dog ate her airline boarding pass to europe [for realz!].

but rhode, who began shooting at the age of 6yo &
began competing at 10yo — coached by her dad, richard rhode, then & now —
wasn't about to let those speedbumps slow her down.
she trains 6-8hrs daily, spending up to $700/day for shells & targets.

& this one-of-a-kind olympic champion — who, in addition to shooting, also
collects rare children's books, is a gourmet cook & restores classic cars —
isn't about to call it quits at five games/medals.

noting the oldest shooting medalist, oscar swahn of sweden,
won his last gold at 64yo & his final medal at 72yo,
rhode quips, "i feel i've got a few more left in me."

No comments: