She's not only the first woman to win a gold medal in six consecutive Olympic games.
She's the first athlete to win a gold medal in six consecutive Olympic games.
Uh, who? Who? You say you've never heard of her?
That's because Kim Rhode, maker of Olympic history, got her six consecutive gold medals with a gun. Skeet shooting is her sport. Even worse, she's a Republican (she spoke at the 2012 GOP convention). And worst of all, she's not shy about defending the Second Amendment against gun-control advocates. Here she is in an interview with Time magazine:
The December 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., where a married couple shot 14 people and seriously injured 22 more, struck particularly close to home. Rhode lives near Los Angeles and her parents own property in the area around San Bernardino. “My heart breaks for those people,” Rhode tells TIME, but such tragedies “make we want to carry even more.”
Indeed, Rhode says a series of gun control measures passed in California following the San Bernardino attack are onerous and a misguided response to the tragedy. “I shoot 500 to 1,000 rounds a day, so having to do a background check every time I purchase ammo, or every time I want to bring ammo in or out of a competition or a match, those are very challenging for me,” says Rhode. “Also, I’ve had guns in my family for generations that have been passed down, and now I’m going to register them as assault weapons. And they will not be passed on to my son, or to me from my father. It definitely does effect me and give me a reason to speak out more.”
The upshot, as Heat Street points out:
CNN, for example, hasn’t published a story about Rhode since she won her medal and made history. (The most recent story was about her comments on gun control.)
Meanwhile, CNN has published numerous stories on Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first U.S. Olympian to compete wearing a hijab.
Furthermore, according to a June article in the Los Angeles Times:
Like other Olympians, shooters depend on corporate sponsorships, but the support they receive is limited mostly to the gun industry. Even someone as successful as Rhode doesn’t get a chance at more-lucrative endorsements for toothpaste, yogurt or shaving cream.
"Endemically she’s a star,” [USA Shooting spokesman Kevin] Neuendorf said. “But there is this sad reality when an athlete that’s won … five Olympic medals and is as dynamic a personality as Kim is and she’s not one of the marquee names being featured by Olympic sponsors and promoted by NBC.”
Heat Street adds:
Few outlets have bothered writing about Rhode’s compelling personal story, and the challenges she had to overcome to make it to Rio. Following the London Olympics in 2012, the 37-year-old Rhode struggled through a difficult pregnancy that required surgery to remove her gall bladder. Because doctors advised her not to lift anything greater than five pounds during the recovery period, Rhode was unable to hold her infant son for several weeks. They also told her she could never become pregnant again.
That's what you get for being a shooter, a conservative, and a gun-rights advocate. Even if you hold the Olympics record for sustained top performance. Even if you're a woman who holds that record.