Monday, July 30, 2012

Excellence

By age and physique, Kimberly Rhode is not what you would probably think of as the archetypal Olympic champion. But in terms of attitude, discipline, and results, she is, in fact, the epitome of one.


Due to a little insomnia, I was up at around 4 a.m. Sunday. Flipping channels, I happened to catch the final round of women's skeet shooting live, and so was privileged to see Rhode's amazing gold-medal run. Frankly, I don't think I had ever heard of her before yesterday. The shooting sports that I have participated in and that I still follow in gun magazines are not Olympic events.

Rhode has won an individual medal in five consecutive Olympics. That's Atlanta 1996 (gold in double trap at the age of 17), Sidney 2000 (bronze in double trap), Athens 2004 (gold in double trap), Beijing 2008 (silver in skeet), and now London 2012. No other American has accomplished that in any sport. What's more, she is not past her prime. In fact, she's better than ever. She crushed her competition this week, hitting 99 out of 100 clay pigeons--eight more than the silver medalist--setting a new Olympic record and tying the world record. All indications are that she will show up in Rio in 2016 and continue her streak, still with that big smile on her face.

This news story about her inspired me:


She went out of her way to find places to practice that had wind and rain that would simulate what she would likely face in England, and shot in those difficult conditions when everybody else had quit. She doesn't beat herself up over the one missed shot, but instead sees it as an opportunity for improvement at the next Olympics.

And yet in spite of that drive for perfection, she still keeps its importance in perspective: It's a game. She does it because it's fun, and if she doesn't win, the world won't end.

This is what excellence is. I stand in awe of it.

(If you are too dense to see the obvious lessons to be learned about your poker game, well, I don't think me pointing them out is going to help.)

5 comments:

lightning36 said...

So what is your point? Oops ...

Anonymous said...

I think the lesson is to go play poker in the wind and rain!

Big-O said...

I'm curious as to the difference between skeet and double trap.
I wonder if she can compete in both in the same olympics?

Rakewell said...

Yes.

In a nutshell, trap involves shooting clay pigeons that are flying away from you, skeet is shooting ones that are going across your field.

Herb said...

I saw an article on her, shared by Savage Arms on facebook. To Big-O, the reason she switched from trap to skeet was because trap was dropped as an event.

Thanks for the explanation, Grump. I've done some shooting, but never knew the difference between the two.