Rhode guns for medals - and children's books
By Scott Malone
(Reuters) - Shotgun shooter Kim Rhode will be looking to extend her record as the only U.S. athlete to win medals at five consecutive Olympic Games in an individual sport when she arrives at next month's Rio Summer Games.
The 37-year-old Californian has a long history in the sport, having fired her first weapon at the age of 10 and won her first world championships three years later.
If she manages to extend her medal streak, which dates back to the 1996 Atlanta Games and includes three golds, a silver and a bronze, it will mean she's overcome a serious hip injury that resulted from her son Carter's birth three years ago.
"It was very difficult to come back from that," Rhode told reporters at the United States Olympic Committee's media summit. "I struggled very much on walking. I had some nerve damage."
Rhode said she still doesn't have the energy to train as much as she did before the injury. She now shoots about 700 rounds in her typical training session, down from 1,000 per day before her injury.
But her stamina has improved greatly from the first few months after Carter's birth, when she could manage just 200 rounds in a session.
"I'm not quite there, but I'm getting there," Rhode said.
Rhodes used a dominating performance at the U.S. Olympic team trials in May, finishing ahead of her closest competitor by 14 points, to secure her spot on the U.S. women's skeet shooting team for the Aug. 5-21 Rio Games.
And while Rhodes is heading to her sixth Olympics she is not even entertaining the thought of when she will call it a career.
In fact, Rhodes hopes to have many years ahead of her in sport -- pointing out that the oldest athlete ever to compete in an Olympic Games was Sweden's Oscar Swahn, who competed in shooting at the 1920 Antwerp Games at the age of 72.
"Definitely not going to be my last Olympics, win, lose or draw," Rhode said.
She already has a side project in mind for Rio: Adding to her collection of more than 5,000 first-edition children's books, which includes originals of Frank Baum's Oz series, which inspired the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz," as well as some of Johnny Gruelle's "Raggedy Ann" books.
She adds to her collection by visiting estate sales while travelling to competitions and training events.
"I did end up getting a first-edition Beatrix Potter in London during the Olympics. Who knows what this one will be?" Rhode said. "Maybe there's some book down in Rio that I can't live without."
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Frank Pingue)