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Kim Rhode Appears On Target To Defend World Title

By Paul D. Bowker | Sept. 05, 2014, 4:12 p.m. (ET)

Kim Rhode competes in the women's trap shooting qualification during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Royal Artillery Barracks on Aug. 4, 2012 in London.

The target for six Olympic medals is clearly in Kim Rhode’s view.

The five-time Olympian already has achieved what no other U.S. athlete has done. Rhode has won a medal in shooting at five consecutive Olympic Games, beginning with a gold in women’s double trap at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games and including a gold in women’s skeet at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

She moved ahead of track stars Carl Lewis and Al Oerter with her championship performance in London and now, following the birth of a son in May 2013, she is back for a run at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.

“There is nothing like the pride of representing your country in the Olympics,” Rhode said.

Rhode will be among 81 U.S. shooters competing in the ISSF World Shooting Championship beginning this weekend in Granada, Spain. The events begins the Olympic qualifying period for Rio and 64 quota spots in 15 shooting disciplines will be up for grabs, including women’s skeet.

Individual spots on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team will be earned later through a points system based on international performance or at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

Worlds begins with three days of competition in men’s trap and also men’s air rifle. The 12 days of competition will also include women’s trap, men’s and women’s skeet, men’s and women’s air rifle, men’s and women’s prone rifle, men’s and women’s standard rifle, men’s and women’s pistol.

Since giving birth to son Carter, Rhode has been back on the world cup circuit this year and hasn’t missed a beat. She has medaled in all three shotgun world cups, including winning two gold medals. A world champion for the first time when she was just 13, Rhode, now 35, is seeking a successful defense of the women’s skeet world title she won in 2010 to capture a quota spot for the London Games.

Rhode is the only shooter to compete in all three shotgun disciplines at the Olympic Games: skeet, trap and double trap.

While Rhode focuses on adding to U.S. history at the worlds, there will be many other American shooters chasing down their own path toward Rio.

Two-time Olympic men’s skeet champion Vincent Hancock hopes to continue his run of success and nail down a quota spot for Rio. He will be joined by rising star Dustin Perry, who won his second straight national championship and also won his first career world cup medal (bronze).

Three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons is seeking to become the all-time leader in world championship medals in prone rifle. His 11 medals in all disciplines at four world championships ties him with Rhode.

Emmons won the gold medal in prone at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and earned a silver medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

“It’s a big match and the most difficult one to win,” Emmons said. “I like big challenges and this is what I’ve been working toward for the last 18 months. All of the other competitions were steps along the path in my preparation for this.”

Other U.S. shooters in rifle will include 2012 Olympians Michael McPhail, Eric Uptagrafft and Amanda Furrer. Sarah Scherer withdrew from the worlds because of a back injury.

Double trap shooters Glenn Eller, Jeff Holguin and Josh Richmond have won five of the 12 world cup medals this year. In 32 international events since 2008, including the Olympic Games, world championships and world cups, an American has finished lower than sixth place only six times in double trap.

Eller is a four-time Olympian and he won the gold medal in double trap in Beijing. Eller has won four world championship medals, including two golds.

Four-time Olympian Emil Milev and two-time Olympian Keith Sanderson hope to earn a rare medal in rapid fire pistol. A U.S. pistol shooter hasn’t won a world medal since 1981.

Among the family bonds on the U.S. team are the husband-and-wife team of Sandra and Eric Uptagrafft, both 2012 Olympians, and brothers Will and Wyatt Brown.

The USA Shooting world team roster ranges from 51-year-old John Zurek in pistol to 15-year-old Tony Chung, also a pistol shooter.

Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1990 and was Olympic assistant bureau chief for Morris Communications at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. He also writes about Olympic sports for the Springfield (Mass.) Republican. Bowker has written for TeamUSA.org since 2010 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Kim Rhode