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Associated Press, Published July 29 2012

American Rhode wins medal at fifth straight Olympics

LONDON – Step aside, Carl Lewis.

You, too, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Al Oerter.

Meet Kimberly Rhode, the first American with individual medals in five straight Olympics, after a golden, record-setting, nearly perfect performance.

Rhode won the women’s skeet shooting Sunday, tying a world record and setting the Olympic mark with 99 points – meaning she missed once in 100 shots. She was eight targets better than silver medalist Wei Ning of China and nine better than Slovakia’s Danka Bartekova, who topped Russia’s Marina Belikova in a shootout for the bronze.

Rhode won in double trap at Atlanta as a teenager in 1996, took bronze in that event four years later at Sydney, re-claimed the gold at Athens in 2004 and won the silver in skeet at Beijing in 2008.

Now, golden again.

“It’s just been an incredible journey,” said Rhode, strands of glitter intertwined with her blonde hair. “And ultimately, I couldn’t be happier for bringing home the gold for the United States.”

Lewis, Oerter, Joyner-Kersee and Bruce Baumgartner are the other Americans recognized as individual medal-winners in four straight Summer Olympics. Rhode’s at five now, and at 33 years old, she’s not planning to stop anytime soon.

“I would like to learn from her,” said Wei, the silver medalist, looking at Rhode and smiling.

Rhode becomes the eighth U.S. woman with at least five individual Olympic medals – speedskater Bonnie Blair and Joyner-Kersee each have six, while Shirley Babashoff, Janet Evans, Shannon Miller, Amanda Beard and Natalie Coughlin also have five.

Pretty good company, by any measure.

“No one has ever shot 100 in this style of shooting,” said Bartekova, who has a 99 in competition. “With Kim shooting like this, it’s not going to take a long time.”

Rhode was a perfect 25-for-25 in each of the first two qualifying sessions, then ran her streak to 65 straight hits before her lone misfire. Several people who braved a chilly rain day at the Royal Artillery Barracks sighed in disbelief at the miss, which Rhode shrugged off with ease.

“I just missed,” she said.

She didn’t miss again. The sun came out for the final round, which she entered with a four-target lead – that’s a lot – and by the midway point of the medal competition everyone knew it was over. All that was left to decide was whether she would tie the world mark of 99, and if she would hold back tears long enough to see the final few orange 4-inch clay targets whizzing about at 60 mph.