I love the Olympics! Everyday I learn about some badass athlete who has accomplished something amazing…usually by overcoming adversity or controversy. It’s inspiring!
Today meet Kim Rhode… one of America’s least known Olympians who is one of the most successful Olympic medalists in U.S. history. On August 12th, Kim Rhode will have the chance to bring a medal home for a record-setting sixth Olympics in a row, as she competes in the skeet event.
Rhode made her debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games days after her 17th birthday, and promptly won gold in the double trap. In London while pregnant, she set an Olympic record by hitting 99 of 100 targets in the finals. Badass, right?
Now at 37, she’s got more on her mind than just history. Fame and recognition as one of the best shooters in the world have put her in a unique position to become more politically active. After taking the gold at the London games, the first question asked wasn’t about the win, but rather, “Can you comment on Aurora” – a reference to the mass shooting in a movie theater that left 12 people dead.
“No other sport in the Olympics gets that,” she says. “They don’t ask the swimmers to comment after somebody drowns.”
Kim Rhode started shooting when she was 10 years old. As an avid hunter and outdoorsman, guns and shooting have always been a part of her life. Recently she has decided to take a stand against gun control laws, offering full support for carrying concealed weapons, and attacking gun legislation in her home state of California.
“I’m definitely becoming more vocal because I see the need,” said Rhode. “We just had six laws that were passed in California that will directly affect me. For example, ammunition law. I shoot 500 to 1,000 rounds a day, having to do a background check every time I purchase ammo or when I bring ammo out for a competition or a match – those are very, very challenging for me.”
She said one of the new laws in California that curtails the flow of guns will actually prevent her from inheriting her own father’s guns or giving hers to her children. Rhodes feels that many of the recent mass shootings have occurred in cities where anti-gun legislation is already in place – suggesting that those shootings are examples of why gun control doesn’t work.
Being in a sport surrounded by controversy hasn’t been easy. Rhode spends a lot of time studying gun laws because she knows that will be the focus of her press conferences. Also, she says the stigma attached to shooting has affected her ability to get endorsements.
Whether you agree with Rhode’s views or not, you can’t argue with her place in Olympic history, and I for one will be rooting for her to break the record and become the first summer Olympian to win an individual medal in six straight Olympics. #Badass