Missy Franklin has gone to the dogs, as in the Georgia Bulldogs.
The five-time Olympic gold medalist relocated to Athens, Ga., where she is pursuing a psychology degree and mounting a comeback in the pool.
Starting the new year with a cross-country move from Northern California, where she was attending the University of California at Berkeley, was a huge decision for the 22-year-old from Colorado.
Although happy training under Cal men’s coach Dave Durden, Franklin longed for the support her extended family in Georgia could provide and the chance to be around a women’s and men’s team run by one coach.
Finally, she decided, it was time to do what was best for her.
“I really struggled with that for a while because I looked at it from a selfish perspective,” she told The Associated Press by phone on Thursday. “It really isn’t a selfish decision. I started thinking about the road I have ahead of me. I started looking at options, which is really big for me.”
That road includes the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Another chance on her sport’s biggest stage would be redemptive for Franklin.
She had a puzzling clunker of a showing at the Rio Games after barely making the U.S. team, a memory she’s eager to replace.
Franklin washed out in her individual events and earned gold for a morning preliminary swim on a relay.
It was a stunning result for the bubbly teenager who won four golds and a bronze swimming in seven events in London.
A couple months before Rio, Franklin was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. She kept it all to herself, though, and publicly smiled through the difficulties she endured at the Games.
Even while mired in her woes, Franklin noticed a change in Michael Phelps. Her teammate was visibly different from the previous four years, smiling and happy and enjoying the sport.
She knew she wanted that for herself again.
Last year, Franklin underwent a pair of shoulder surgeries that kept her out of the pool. She missed the U.S. nationals and world championships in Hungary, leaving her plenty of time to reconsider her priorities and focus.
When she was considering colleges after her breakout four golds performance at the 2012 London Olympics, Georgia was runner-up to Cal.
Now, it’s her first choice.
The move has reunited Franklin with Bulldogs coach Jack Bauerle, who coached her when she made her first national team at age 13. He kept in touch even after Franklin settled on the West Coast.
“I’ve always adored him,” she said. “He cares about you.”
Franklin no longer competes in the collegiate ranks. Her fellow pros who train at Georgia include national team members Chase Kalisz, Melanie Margalis and Olivia Smoliga.
Besides extended family, Franklin is back in the same city as her Cal roommate who teaches in Atlanta. Her longtime boyfriend isn’t far away in Nashville.
“It already feels like home,” she said. “I felt so welcomed and so accepted.”
That’s important to Franklin, a self-described people pleaser who was always worried about others’ opinions and happiness, sometimes at her own expense.
“That was some hard lessons I had to learn at 16, 17. It’s impossible to please everyone and make everyone happy all the time,” she said. “To be able to sit here and shrug off those opinions that don’t matter took me a lot to learn.”
Franklin remembers walking into Durden’s office at Cal to tell him she was moving on, and she felt good about it.
“I can truly say I don’t know if I would still be swimming if it wasn’t for Dave Durden,” she said. “He’s one of those coaches that want the best for me.”
Franklin is wrapping up her first week of classes in Athens, still about 1 1/2 years from earning a degree after some of her credits from Cal didn’t transfer.
She’s going full-on in the pool, too, working with Bauerle on building up her stamina and strength in pursuit of regaining her speed.
She’s hitting the weight room and feeling reassured that her shoulders are healed, although she sees a physical therapist a few times a week for maintenance.
She may swim some Pro Series meets in the coming months. Her main target is U.S. nationals in July in Southern California.
“I’m kind of coming back from the bottom,” she said. “I could feel pressure because people are expecting a comeback, but I don’t care. I don’t really care what kind of pressure people are putting on me because I can’t control that.”
Instead, Franklin is focused on why she wants to swim again.
“I want to get back to that 17-year-old who truly loved the sport,” she said. “It’s less about the hardware I bring back and more about getting back there and showing people the Missy that is so happy.”
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LONDON (AP) — Garbine Muguruza insisted she wasn’t thinking about attempting to collect a second consecutive Wimbledon championship. She was adamant that she was not focusing on defending her title.
“It doesn’t really matter,” she would say, “what happened in 2017.”
Well, it seems safe to say she’ll really want to forget what happened at the All England Club in 2018. Muguruza was stunned in the second round 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 by 47th-ranked Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium on Thursday, the earliest exit for a defending women’s champion since Steffi Graf in 1994.
“It’s a little bit sad,” Muguruza said. “But today didn’t go my way.”
That’s become a familiar refrain for prominent women at this topsy-turvy Wimbledon.
Only two of the top eight seeded women are still in the field after four days of action.
No. 3-seeded Muguruza joined No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 4 Sloane Stephens, No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 6 Caroline Garcia and No. 8 Petra Kvitova on the way out so far, along with five-time major champion Maria Sharapova.
“I mean, anyone, on a good day, can beat anyone,” Van Uytvanck said. “That’s what I think. I still think the top players, their average level is higher than, let’s say, sub-top players. But anyone on a good day can beat anyone, for sure.”
Sure seems that way, particularly this week.
Among the men, too.
Resumes and past performances do not matter. At all.
Marin Cilic, for example, entered his second-round match with all sorts of advantages in experience and success over his opponent, including a runner-up finish at the All England Club a year ago and a U.S. Open title in 2014.
So when Cilic took a two-sets-to-none lead against a guy who began the week with records of 0-2 at Wimbledon and 6-15 at all majors, it appeared the No. 3 seed was on his way to a straightforward victory and a step closer to a potential semifinal rematch against defending champion Roger Federer.
Hold that thought. The outcome that seemed obvious vanished, and Cilic is gone from the field, giving away a big edge in a 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-5 loss to 82nd-ranked Guido Pella of Argentina in a match completed Thursday after being suspended midway through the third set because of rain the evening before.
Cilic called it a “big disappointment.”
“Just didn’t feel so good. I was not as accurate as yesterday,” he said. “I was just missing some balls, giving him chance to keep playing.”
WIMBLEDON: Full Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw
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Noah Lyles and Michael Norman were supposed to author the race of the year at the Diamond League meet in Lausanne on Thursday, but the most impressive performance of the night came from Shelby Houlihan.
Houlihan, an Olympic 5000m runner who has surged in the 1500m this season, won her third straight major 1500m, lowering her personal best by 1.72 seconds, clocking 3:57.34 and beating a field that included Caster Semenya. Houlihan kicked from fourth place with 150 meters left, while Semenya was already out of it, finishing sixth.
In all, Houlihan has dropped her 1500m personal best by 6.05 seconds in the last month and a half, winning the Prefontaine Classic on May 26 and the USATF Outdoor Championships on June 23.
“I didn´t have many expectations coming into the race today and was actually a bit worried as I was not feeling very well,” Houlihan said, according to race organizers. “I had to talk to myself during the race to stay in a comfortable position and the incredible crowd here brought my home during the last 200 meters.”
Houlihan is now the fourth-fastest U.S. woman in history in the 1500m behind Shannon Rowbury, Mary Slaney and Jenny Simpson.
Minutes after Houlihan crossed the line, Lyles matched his personal best and the fastest time in the world this year to win the 200m in 19.69 seconds. Norman was second in 19.88.
“Yesterday I said I want to be an icon, being consistent is the first step towards that,” Lyles said. “19.69 is great, but you can always improve. I feel I can do a lot better. I need to improve my technique on the bends and who knows. I don’t want to put a limit on myself. My life goals are big. I want to be as good if not better than Michael Johnson and Justin Gatlin.”
Lyles and Norman raced each other for the first time since they finished fourth and fifth in the 2016 Olympic Trials 200m as 18-year-olds. Both were undefeated in outdoor 200m races since trials, though neither raced at 2017 Worlds.
Full Lausanne results are here.
The Diamond League next moves to Rabat, Morocco, on July 13 with live coverage on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold.
In other events, Marie-Josée Ta Lou of Cote d’Ivoire continued her undefeated season in the 100m, winning in 10.90 seconds. Olympic champion Elaine Thompson was second in 10.99, while U.S. champion Aleia Hobbs did not start in what would have been her senior international debut.
In the men’s 5000m, Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha nearly pulled countryman Selemon Barega down by his shorts coming around the final turn. Kejelcha failed and ended up falling himself. Bahrain’s Birhanu Balew won in 13:01.09, the fastest time in the world this year.
Olympic and world champion Katerina Stefanidi cleared 4.82 meters in the pole vault to beat 2012 Olympic champion Jenn Suhr on count back. Seven women cleared 4.72 meters in a competition for the first time in history, according to the IAAF’s Jon Mulkeen.
Russian Sergey Shubenkov beat Olympic and world 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica for the second time this week, clocking 12.95 seconds. McLeod was fifth in 13.41. Shubenkov has the four fastest times in the world this year and is the only man to break 13 seconds in 2018.
U.S. champion Shamier Little won the 400m hurdles over a field that included Olympic gold and bronze medalists Dalilah Muhammad and Ashley Spencer. Little clocked 53.41, well off the fastest time in the world this year held by Sydney McLaughlin (52.75), who was not in the Lausanne field.
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