LONDON — Kimberly Rhode's years-long journey to the Olympic skeet shooting final at the Royal Artillery Barracks included a stolen championship shot gun, her husband's missing passport and a "hell on wheels" toy poodle that devoured her plane ticket to London.
The journey was worth it: Rhode, 33, became the first American athlete to win an individual medal in five straight Olympics, winning gold and setting an Olympic record for the highest score in the Olympic Finals with a 99-out-of-100. The previous mark was 93.
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Rhode's performance was so dominant, she had the gold clinched well before the final round of shooting, which led to some emotions during the event.
"I told myself, 'Don't cry. You won't be able to see the birds. It'll be blurry,'" she said.
Rhode also set an Olympic record in the preliminary round, hitting 74 of 75 targets.
She won gold in double trap shooting in 1996 and 2004, and bronze in the event in 2000. That sport was dropped for the 2008 Beijing Games, so Rhode moved over to skeet shooting. She captured silver in 2008.
Rhode won this event using a different competition shotgun than she had used in previous Olympics. That weapon was stolen in September 2008 and was eventually returned to her the following January. But Rhode had already grown comfortable on the new gun, and used it in London.
Getting to London to use it was a different challenge. As Rhode explained before the event:
"I've had a little bit of a problem with the airlines getting here," said Rhode.
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"I stayed home, trained there and then came directly from L.A. to London so essentially I didn't get all the time adjustment. I'm a little jet-lagged, but other than that, things are good."
Adding to the stress, Rhode's husband initially could not find his passport and her 4-month-old white puppy devoured her re-issued ticket.
"My husband lost his passport and couldn't find it. My dog ate my ticket. ... I know that sounds crazy but I can honestly say and I have the pictures to prove that really happened. It's not just an excuse."
Her lone miss came at station five, low single house during preliminaries, which were held during a rain storm in London.
"I remember my dad telling me that 'Someday, you'll have to shoot well in the rain.' And he was right," she said.
Rhode indicated that she plans on continuing her streak at the 2016 Rio Games -- and beyond.
"The oldest shooter to win a medal in the Olympics was 72," she said. "I still have a few more in me."
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- Kimberly Rhode