Olympian Kim Rhode made history this weekend when she became the first woman to medal in six straight Olympics. Rhode’s first Olympic medals were earned in the 1996 Games in Atlanta, when she was just 17 years old.
Since then she’s medaled in Sydney, Athens, Beijing, and London. As she stood on the podium in London she was pregnant with her son, though she didn’t know it yet, and had no idea how different the journey to her next Olympic medal ceremony would be.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
She…had a difficult pregnancy [and was] practically bedridden the final four months. The complications continued after Carter was born in 2013, exacerbated by emergency gall bladder surgery six weeks later.
Rhode had an arduous recovery, unable to lift anything over 5 pounds — her gun and son each weighed more — or do much of anything without pain for months.
Rhode had six friends who died after London. Her husband, Mike Harryman, was hospitalized twice with diverticulitis, a condition that affects the colon. Her father broke his leg just before she left for the world championships.
Battling the physical and emotional roadblocks, Rhode gained strength one day at a time as she worked back up to shooting 1,000 rounds a day in practice. Once in Rio, she made it through a shootout to arrive at the bronze medal round, where she again had to make it through a shootout. When China’s Wei Mang missed on her fourth round, Rhode made history.
Kim Rhode stood at the base of the Olympic podium, unsure of what to do with her hands. She tugged at the bottom of her shirt, adjusted the sleeve, dropped her arms to the sides.
Scanning the crowd, she locked onto a mop-haired boy sitting on a man’s shoulders, waving wildly at her. A huge smile flashed across Rhode’s face as she waved back.
The pain, the heartbreak, the emotional toll, all that Rhode had been through the four years since London was worth it for this moment.
Italian shooter Diana Bacosi had gold. Rhode had something more precious: Her son, Carter, there watching as she made Olympic history.
“Every emotion hits you at once,” said Rhode. “You want to run, scream, cry and you just don’t know which one to do first. It doesn’t matter if it’s the gold, silver or the bronze. It’s the journey and my journey this time was very, very challenging and as you can tell, very emotional. I’m still emotional.”
Rhode’s not done yet – she looks to compete in the 2020 Games in Tokyo.