Trump-supporting Rhode on guns and glory

Kimberly Rhode has switched events more often than anyone else in the history of shooting sport and at a time when shooters whine about removal of double trap from the Olympics, her six medals at the Games could serve as an inspiration.

With a record six consecutive medals across five continents, Rhode can lay claim to an Olympic accomplishment not even the most decorated of all time, Michael Phelps, can.   -  PTI

Kimberly Rhode has switched events more often than anyone else in the history of shooting sport and at a time when shooters whine about removal of double trap from the Olympics, her six medals at the Games could serve as an inspiration.

“Definitely this is a sport where men and women can compete on an equal playing field and that’s the great thing about it. Doesn’t matter what’s your size, your stature, you are a man or a woman. Up until 1992, men and women did compete equally, a lady did win, so it is very feasible to do and very possible,” Rhode said.

With a record six consecutive medals across five continents, Rhode can lay claim to an Olympic accomplishment not even the most decorated of all time, Michael Phelps, can. However, unlike the swimming great, she would perhaps still do with an introduction in some parts of the world.

“They have a lot of laws passing right now in the state of California and some of them passed, we are fighting them in the court because they infringe on our second amendment right (which allows people in US to keep arms) and a right is a right.”

For the uninitiated, Rhode is a skeet shooter par excellence, an outspoken critic of gun-control laws in the United States and a staunch Donald Trump supporter.

She is the champion the world was not talking about prior to last summer’s Rio Olympics, where she reaffirmed her greatness, having done the same in London four years earlier when she became the first American athlete to win five medals in five consecutive Olympic Games.

Rhode, 37, has been doing it since her first gold at the Atlanta Games in 1996. With Rio, the first American became the first in the world, albeit quietly.

Her incredible sporting achievements notwithstanding, Rhode willingly wades into questions on contentious issues such as guns, gun-control laws, and their role in American society. She did so after winning in Beijing, did so after winning in London and did so again in Rio.

“They have a lot of laws passing right now in the state of California and some of them passed, we are fighting them in the court because they infringe on our second amendment right (which allows people in US to keep arms) and a right is a right,” the 37-year-old Rhode said in the capital, two days after winning yet another gold medal in an ISSF World Cup.

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“Second amendment is a right we are fighting to keep because when you look back at our history you know people grew up with firearms in their hands, teaching responsibility, discipline. I mean safety was number one and kids were told at a very young age.

“Now we are moving in a direction that is not educational and I think that’s a mistake,” the Californian added.

The role of guns in American society and her own family history is deeply intertwined.

“Some of the laws they are passing in the state of California they will limit the ability for me to be able to inherit some of my father’s guns and for me to pass them down to my son. Those are things that have a lot of value and hold a lot of meaning to me and to my family.”

Mother of a three-year-old son, family woman Rhode wants to change a few perceptions about shooting and shooters.

“I hope to educate people about our sport, it truly is a great sport, it teaches you a lot about responsibility, discipline, focus, determination, things that you use in your everyday life.”

“I hope to educate people about our sport, it truly is a great sport, it teaches you a lot about responsibility, discipline, focus, determination, things that you use in your everyday life.

“It’s a huge part of my life, but end of the day when we are done training we go home. We do laundry, we cook, we clean, I have a three-year-old son we go to his school events and do barbecues with the family.”

When Rhode first claimed an Olympic gold in 1996, she was just 16, a high schooler competing against the world’s best.

She bagged silver in Sydney and won in Athens, and then the Olympics opted to get rid of the double trap.

So Rhode switched to skeet, and continued her incredible journey. She won silver in Beijing and set a world record with a 99 out of 100 rounds in London.

“Priority number one is my family and my friends and after that comes my shooting, so you have to put it in perspective that this is just a game. You love what you do but at the end of the day your family is more important so for me, I go to all the family events.”

“Switching events I had to work on it. It’s never easy because you lose all of your friends, people you travel with, people you grow up with, so it’s very, very difficult, it’s not an easy thing to do. But it can be done I guess, I am living proof of that. I think it’s a mixture of lot of work and lot of dedication.”

While her Olympics and World Championship medals are in a safe, Rhode doesn’t keep her old medals and had them re-engraved and awarded to younger shooters to motivate them.

The one in Delhi was Rhode’s 26th World Cup medal, besides the six Olympic, five World Cup finals and one World Championship medals.

About the current US President, she said, “I am a staunch supporter of Trump, and part of it is because he is very much a staunch supporter of the second amendment.”

Rhode said she and her husband currently own a recording studio in Los Angeles, and they record all kinds of famous bands and musicians.

Talking about her priorities, she said, “Priority number one is my family and my friends and after that comes my shooting, so you have to put it in perspective that this is just a game. You love what you do but at the end of the day your family is more important so for me, I go to all the family events.”

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