"They all have a special meaning," she says of her Olympic appearances, "but this one was one of the most challenging and difficult for me to get to, in terms of some of the hurdles I had to overcome." Shortly after Beijing, the Perazzi MX12 shotgun she'd used for four Games was stolen from her pickup. Last year she had a breast cancer scare. (The tumor was benign.) The hardships she has endured, along with her successes, finally hit her when she was on the podium, she says. Five Games, five medals, and still the feeling never gets old.
After winning gold she was quick to mention Oscar Swahn, the Swedish shooter who won silver at the tender age of 72, back in 1920. Says a confident Rhode, "I have a few more years in me."
Claressa Shields, Boxing
One by one, members of USA Boxing's men's team fell, and from her seat inside ExCeL Arena, middleweight Claressa Shields could hardly believe it. Suddenly, the pressure to win—the burden of staving off the humiliation of becoming the first U.S. boxing program to go medalless at an Olympics—came crashing down on her. When welterweight Errol Spence lost a fight he appeared to win handily (the decision would be overturned a few hours later after the International Boxing Association's competition jury reviewed the bout), Shields went back to the Olympic Village and started to come unspooled. "I thought we were cursed," she says. "I didn't think the judges would let us win."
Showing maturity beyond her 17 years, the Flint, Mich., native locked in on her goal. "I put myself in prison," she says. "I didn't go to any other events. I focused completely on boxing." She fell behind 4--2 after the first round in the quarterfinal, only to rally and batter Sweden's 6-foot Anna Laurell in an 18--14 decision. The gold medal match was less climactic, with Shields whipping 33-year-old Nadezda Torlopova of Russia 19--12. "When I go back and watch all the tournaments I had to fight just to get into the Olympics, I want to cry," says Shields. "Winning that gold medal was something special."