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American shooter's drive for five makes history

LOCALS IN LONDON

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Kimberly Rhode's victory in skeet Sunday made her the first American to win a medal in an individual sport in five Olympics.

LONDON — Kimberly Rhode won the gold medal in women's skeet shooting Sunday, making her the first American to take an individual-sport medal in five consecutive Olympics.

Rhode tied the world record and set an Olympic record with 99 points. Wei Ning of China took silver with 91 points and Danka Bartekova of Slovakia got bronze by beating Marina Belikova of Russia in a shootout after they tied with 90 points.

Rhode won a gold medal 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.

In qualifying, Rhode set another Olympic record, missing only one of her 75 shots. Rhode led by four points entering the final, and the way she was connecting Sunday, there was no way she was getting caught.

USA Shooting touted it as the biggest day in shooting history.

Hard to argue with that.

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 qualifying misfire. Several people watching on a chilly, rainy day at the Royal Artillery Barracks sighed in disbelief at the miss, which Rhode shrugged off with ease.

When qualifying was complete, she flipped the last of the empty shells from her gun, gave a brief fist-pump, followed by a wave and a smile. Rhode thanked several well-wishers as she walked away, moments before rain started falling significantly harder.

The field started with 17 women from 17 nations, before getting pared to six for the final later Sunday.