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In the pantheon of America’s Olympic sports greatness,

Kim Rhode has no equal. Not one person competing in an individual sport can boast of winning fi ve Olympic medals in fi ve consecutive Olympic Games. As she fi res on into her third decade of a spectacular career, she refl ects on legacy, moth- erhood and the extraordinary journey. She is this generation’s Annie Oakley, but perhaps identi-

fi es most closely with a quote uttered by Calamity Jane, anoth- er fabled female fi gure of American western history. “I fi gure if a girl wants to be a legend, she should go ahead and be one.” Rhode’s eventual autobiography would be best structured

like the popular Choose Your Own Adventure series, but with a lot more plot, fantasy and almost no regrettable paths. Each chapter used to detail specifi c periods of an Olympic career unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

Capturing a World Championship at the tender age of 13,

she catapulted that into an Olympic gold-medal run in Double Trap at just 17 years of age. The fi rst of many accolades, she’s still the youngest female gold medalist in the history of her sport. Her memories include being subjected to gender test- ing, which came into play for all athletes during the Games in Atlanta. She carried a Wheaties box with her and still has all the signatures from athletes throughout the world that she had sign it.

Rhode asserts that her bronze medal in Sydney was no

doubt the hardest for her to win. “Being behind is what I re- member,” she says. “Trying to hang on or move forward.” Her post-Games celebration included a hunting trip after a spe- cial invite by Aboriginal elders.

Once again, Rhode would climb the highest step of the po-

dium in the tightest gold-medal battle of her career. “It was a bittersweet win,” she admits. “I was excited that I had won obviously, but I knew my event (Double Trap) was being elimi- nated and so it was scary to think what my future might hold in this sport as a result.”

Easily the most challenging lead-up to any Olympics she’s

ever experienced. She savors the silver medal she won in Skeet as the sweetest reward of all fi ve medals. “The real-

42 USA Shooting News | July 2015

ity of me being forced into a different event and being thrust among veterans and Olympic hopefuls that had been at this for 20 years,” she states. “It was a very lonely position to be in where my competitors were trying to get me to quit. I was trying to learn a completely different discipline and then over- come the challenges of joining a group that didn’t want me and feared me. I was taking something that was rightfully theirs. That process was as close as I’ve come to saying that the fun was taken out of it.” The event was held in a raging downpour. Rhode made the

Final but down two targets. She would make up the difference in the fi nal round where gold would be decided by a three- person shootoff. Rhode would miss her second shot to lose claim on gold but connecting on a second pair moments later would secure her the silver medal.

Two big things happened to Rhode in lead-up to London,

neither of them good. First, her $15,000 gun “Old Faithful” was stolen out of the back of her pick-up after being marked for the taking while out running errands. She also had a breast cancer scare that caused signifi cant concern and interrupted her always arduous training routine. But in the end, not even those setbacks could deter her from achieving Olympic greatness. The way she did it, setting an Olympic and World Record Qualifying score and then - while on the precipice of history - putting it on cruise-control in a dominant Final. She shot Women’s Trap too afterwards, fi nishing ninth, and became the fi rst shotgun shooter in the history of the sport to compete at the Olympics in all three disciplines. So spectacular was the run, her teammates took notice. “I’ve been fortunate to witness some very special perfor-

mances in my career,” said teammate Matt Emmons, a three- time Olympic medalist in his own right. “One of them I will never forget was her gold in London. She beat the fi eld by four targets going into the fi nal. That’s impressive. Her fi nal, however, was a work of art. Yes, it was a 25, but I’ve probably never seen anyone in control of a situation more than she was in that Final. I can’t say what was really going on in her head, but she appeared so at ease with being there. She was waving to the crowd after each station like golfers do after a shot, and she simply dominated; winning by eight targets. It was amazing to see and inspiring. She set two new Olympic records and equaled the Final World Record – and made it look easy!”

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