In her own words, five-time Olympic medal winner Kim Rhode said that shooting trap and skeet is as natural as walking. That is the sort of comment that one expects from the most decorated U.S. female shooter in the history of the Olympic games, but in a recent interview with NPR, Rhode made some comments that some may consider controversial. Specifically, she was outspoken about her views regarding gun rights and proposed gun control legislation.
“We have a lot of bills and legislation that are making it very difficult for people to go out and enjoy that sport that I personally love,” she said.
Rhode, who started sport shooting at a young age, worries that children today will no longer have the opportunities she did. She is also keenly aware that a stigma is increasingly attached to the sport she loves, and that translates to the Olympics as well. Rhode said that while other athletes were asked about their training regimes, she was being asked about the mass shooting in Orlando.
“No other sport in the Olympics gets that,” she told NPR. “They don’t ask the swimmers to comment after somebody drowns.”
It is something that Rhode has grappled with for her entire career—which spanned 27 years of competition, five Olympic games, and three gold medals. The long and ongoing debate over gun control oftentimes spills over shooting sports as well, but Rhode says that she hopes to change perceptions. Especially going into this year’s Rio 2016 Olympics after a strong finish in London 4 years ago, Rhode says that she hopes that she can generate some positive news and encourage others to join the sport. That is the legacy she wants to leave behind.
“I’ve never thought of (my career) as a legacy, but it definitely is,” she told the Los Angeles Daily News. “You never think of yourself in that sense. I hope to be a woman that can open up our sport more to the general public and to show my love and passion and knowledge.”
The champion shooter remarked that more young athletes do seem to be interested in taking up shooting sports, and the field is becoming increasingly diverse as people of all backgrounds and nationalities join in. More competition for her, but she’s not worried. Rhode will be coming into the 2016 Olympics as one of the athletes with the most medals, and certainly as one of the favorites in her field. You can watch Rhode describe her Olympic experience in this video below: