Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

2012 Olympics

July 30, 2012

Skeet-shooter nearly perfect at Olympics

LONDON — Kimberly Rhode became the first American with individual medals in five straight Olympics, after a golden, record-setting, nearly perfect performance at the women’s skeet shooting Sunday.

She tied a world record and set the Olympic mark with 99 points — meaning she missed once in 100 shots. She was eight targets better than silver medalist Wei Ning of China.

Rhode won in double trap at Atlanta as a teenager in 1996, took bronze in that event four years later at Sydney, re-claimed the gold at Athens in 2004 and won the silver in skeet at Beijing in 2008.

Now, golden again.

“It’s just been an incredible journey,” said Rhode, strands of glitter intertwined with her blonde hair. “And ultimately, I couldn’t be happier for bringing home the gold for the United States.”

Carl Lewis, Al Oerter, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Bruce Baumgartner are the other Americans recognized as individual medal-winners in four straight Summer Olympics. Rhode’s at five now, and at 33 years old, she’s not planning to stop anytime soon.

Rhode was a perfect 25-for-25 in each of the first two qualifying sessions, then ran her streak to 65 straight hits before her lone misfire. Several people who braved a chilly rain day at the Royal Artillery Barracks sighed in disbelief at the miss, which Rhode shrugged off with ease.

“I just missed,” she said.

She didn’t miss again. The sun came out for the final round, which she entered with a four-target lead — that’s a lot — and by the midway point of the medal competition everyone knew it was over. All that was left to decide was whether she would tie the world mark of 99, and if she would hold back tears long enough to see the final few orange 4-inch clay targets whizzing about at 60 mph.

“It’s been an overwhelming experience,” Rhode said. “Every emotion hits you at once.”

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2012 Olympics