While her sport does not feature the kind of physical strain that causes most of her Olympic brethren to retire from competition much earlier, Kim Rhode accomplished something no other American Olympian has: win an individual medal at six Olympics.
Rhode collected a bronze medal for her efforts in the women’s skeet competition at the Rio de Janeiro Games. Italian Dana Bacosi won the gold. Nevertheless, the 37-year-old American shooter etched her name in a hallowed club of durability, her sport’s lower standing within the Olympic hierarchy notwithstanding.
She’s the fifth athlete ever to medal at six Olympics, in either summer or winter competition, and joins Italian luger Armin Zoeggeler as the only athletes to earn a medal in six straight Olympics.
Rhode has also distinguished herself for longevity within her sport, with no shooter matching her six-medal haul over the past 20 years.
The Whittier, Calif., native burst onto the shooting scene as a 17-year-old at the Atlanta Games in 1996, winning a gold in her first Olympic competition, the women’s double trap. She then defended her title in 2000 in Sydney while entering the skeet field as well. Although she didn’t medal in that event in Australia, Rhode became a three-time double trap champion in Athens in ’04 before notching a silver in skeet in Beijing four years later.
Illustrating her burgeoning acumen at the second event she tried on the global stage, Rhode won gold in the London skeet competition and didn’t medal in double trap.
She’s already announced plans to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, when she’ll be 41.