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Rio Olympics 2016: Can Missy Franklin recreate the magic in Rio?

563   //    14 Jul 2016, 14:55 IST
Missy Franklin created history when she won five medals in the 2012 Games

Missy Franklin was the find of the 2012 London Olympics. She had become the first American woman ever to participate in seven different categories in swimming at the last Olympics. This led to the American winning five medals in those Games with four gold medals coming in the 100m and 200m backstrokes, 4x200m freestyle relay and the 4x100m medley relay, she also managed to bag a bronze medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

She was only 17 years old in 2012 and had already accomplished what many athletes can only dream of at such a young age. But her journey to the top of the swimming world started at the age of 13 when she was at the US Olympic Team Trials in for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

But she could not manage to qualify, finishing at the 37th spot in the 100m freestyle. She was very young but always had the physique and height of an adult. Thereby. she was helped in competing with much older athletes since a young age.

Breakthrough year in 2010

Her first major accomplishment came in the year 2010 when she participated in the US National Championships. The swimmer had competed in six individual events and qualified for the 2010 Pan American Games, getting herself selected in the 100m and 200m backstroke.

This was the first of many tournaments that Missy would come to be a part of. She did not win anything at those Games, but she came back to win her first medals at the FINA Short Course World Championships held in the same year. She won two silver medals in the 200m backstroke and the 4x100m medley relay events.

But building up to the 2012 Olympics, Missy participated in her first long course tournament in the 2011 World Aquatics Championship in Shanghai. It was there that Missy won her firsts of the many gold medals. The American won 3 gold medals combined with a silver-bronze each. This paved the way for her to participate in the 2012 Games in London. 

Whilst she had been fairly successful during and after the London Olympics, the American swimmer has failed to impress in the recently concluded US Olympic Trials. She could not win any of the events she took part in.

Her finishing in the 7th spot in the 100m backstroke meant that she will not be able to defend her gold medal at Rio 2016. In the other six events she had participated in at the London Olympics, the 21-year old will only be competing in three of those.

Three events could certainly mean three more medals for the American, but there are more swimmers who have come a long way to compete for the top prize. One such swimmer is her compatriot, Maya DiRado, who beat the 6-feet tall swimmer at the US trials. DiRado has been a late bloomer for the Americans but had recently done well to cause major upsets at the Games.

Missy Franklin (left) celebrates with Maya DiRado (right) at the US Trials

Meanwhile, Missy, who has to be disappointed with her only being able to participate in three events, has not broken a sweat over the issue. She has come out and expressed her satisfaction with the trails and has jokingly said that she will be happy to watch other Americans athletes from the sidelines at the Games.

Surely an athlete of her ability cannot be happy with only three events. But one of the reasons for her downfall in recent times has been her back injury which has led to the swimmer getting slower.

After having changed her coach from Todd Schmitz to Teri McKeever, she had gone back to Schmitz again last year. It was with Schmitz that Franklin had won the medals at the Olympics Games in London.

After the last Olympics, Franklin did achieve a lot of other success internationally by winning six gold medals at the 2013 Barcelona World Championships. She went on to bag another four medals at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships but only won gold in the 4x200m freestyle event.

The 2015 Kazan World Aquatics Championships saw Franklin win five medals but with only two golds coming in the relay events. She has not managed to win a gold medal in any of the individual events since 2013.

This might indicate that the two-time FINA Swimmer of the Year has lost her mojo when she competes individually. The impact her recent performances might make on her preparations might be severe, but this little but huge American wonder is not the one who will back down. She will have the chance to rewrite the history books in Rio, it will be interesting to see whether or not she takes her chances.

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