What were you doing in the summer of 1996? Boris Yeltsin was re-elected in Russia, Dolly the sheep was born in Scotland, and Kim Rhode won gold in Double Trap in the Atlanta Olympics. She was was the youngest female gold medalist in shooting at just 17-years old. But she was already the Ladies World Champion in American Skeet four years before that.
Now, she’s the only female Olympian to have medaled in six consecutive Olympics, and only one other Olympian, Armin Zoeggeler (luge), has done the same. So how does an athlete who has lead the world for the last 28 years fail to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
“I have no excuses,” she told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview. “It’s something you can’t take for granted. Every time, you have to qualify.”
All it takes is missing one or two shots in a highly competitive sport and suddenly you’re not representing your country at the Olympics. Rhode finished fourth, and only the top two get to compete.
The Spring Olympic Trials are comprised of four shooting days. Although shooters will only fire 100 shots at clays in the Olympics, the qualifier was 250 shots plus the finals, plus some points for placing. This qualifier score is combined with scores from the Fall qualifier for a total score.
Amber English, Rhode’s mentee and an Army reservist, scored a 532, followed by Austen Smith’s 529. Samantha Simonton (527) and Kim Rhode’s (520) will be alternates at the Tokyo games. Here’re the scores for the Spring trials. A perfect score in each round would be 25.
Rhode is on Team Beretta and uses their DT11 over-under shotgun in 12 gauge. Loads for olympic skeet shooting are limited to 7/8oz of #7 shot.
Rhode is undaunted by the results of the qualifier. She will be an alternate for the Tokyo games and she says she still plans to compete at the Paris games in 2024 and even the Los Angeles games in 2028.
The Olympics are only once every four years and Kim Rhode competes at far more competitions than the Olympics alone. She’s also won gold at the World Cup and set many world records. Rhode has been competing since the age of ten, and a little setback like this won’t stop her.