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Missy Franklin: Rio problems were not physical

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Missy Franklin said her Rio Olympic struggles were not physical, but emotional and mental, according to Colorado media.

Franklin, a four-time 2012 gold medalist who earned one medal in Rio (gold) as a prelim swimmer on the 4x200m free relay, reflected in interviews Monday about her first year-plus as a professional swimmer.

Before turning pro, Franklin won four gold medals at the 2012 Olympics and six at the 2013 World Championships.

Her decline started in 2014 and specifically two days before that year’s biggest meet, the Pan Pacific Championships, when she suffered back spasms with pain reaching 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Franklin turned pro after two seasons at the University of California and moved in spring 2015 to her parents’ home and trained with her youth coach, Todd Schmitz, leading up to Rio while continuing to take preventative care of her back.

In interviews throughout this year, Franklin has not cited the previous back injury as a reason for her struggles, nor any major reason. Now, two months after the Olympics, she believes she’s found a source.

“The major thing that I’ve pinpointed is the lack of balance I had in my life for that year,” Franklin said Monday, according to the Denver Post. “My whole life, my parents helped me feel well-rounded and so much more than just a swimmer. I’ve always had school, I’ve always had friends, I’ve always had family.

“But in retrospect I took away school, I took away teammates that were all going towards the same goal, I took away friends. All of the amazing friendships I had made were back in California. I was here, alone, living in my parents’ basement, and I was just Missy the swimmer for a year. I don’t think that was good for me personally, I don’t think that was good for me emotionally or mentally, and I really struggled with a lot of that. That came through in my swimming performance.”

What Franklin said Monday were reminiscent of how Schmitz assessed her performance back in August.

“There were glimpses, so something just wasn’t connecting,” Schmitz said during the Rio Olympics, according to the newspaper. “I truly don’t think it was physical. I think there is probably something else going on there that she’s still dealing with, that we saw at trials — pressure, the load of expectations.”

Franklin announced after Rio that she would move back to California and train with other post-collegiate swimmers under Cal men’s head coach Dave Durden.

MORE: How Missy Franklin and Mikaela Shiffrin became friends

Laurie Hernandez plans on competing in 2019, agent says

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Olympic gymnastics champion Laurie Hernandez plans on competing in 2019, her agent said.

Hernandez has not competed since taking team gold and vault silver at the Rio Olympics, followed by winning “Dancing with the Stars” later that fall.

She said in October that she hoped to compete in 2018 but would not rush a comeback. Hernandez since decided not to compete at the U.S. Championships this August.

No member of the Final Five has competed at the elite level since Rio, though Madison Kocian is in her sophomore season at UCLA and Simone Biles plans to return this summer.

Aly Raisman said in September 2016 that she planned to take one year off, then return to training for a Tokyo 2020 run. But her focus shifted in the last year to something more important — taking on USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The last member of the Final Five, 2012 Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas, has not said in widely reported comments if or when she will return to competition.

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Sonja Henie record at stake; figure skating worlds pairs preview

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When Aljona Savchenko won her first gold medal at her fifth Olympics with her third different partner in PyeongChang, she said she “wrote history.”

She can write some more this week.

Savchenko, who at 34 became the oldest female figure skating champion in Winter Olympic history, and partner Bruno Massot are the only pairs medalists from PyeongChang who are back for the world championships in Milan.

The Germans headline the field for the short program Wednesday and free skate Friday.

MORE: World Champs TV Schedule

Savchenko can tie Norwegian Sonja Henie for the female record of 11 world championships medals. She can grab a share of second on the all-time pairs list with a sixth world title, four shy of Soviet Irina Rodnina‘s record.

Savchenko, who won four crowns with now-retired Robin Szolkowy, goes for her first world title with Massot. They’re clear favorites.

Olympic silver medalists Sui Wenjing and Han Cong withdrew from worlds due to Sui’s foot injury. Olympic bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford retired.

It’s arguably a surprise that Savchenko and Massot chose to compete in Milan. They’re the first Olympic pairs champions to compete at a post-Olympic worlds since 1992.

Their top challengers are Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, who outscored Savchenko and Massot in the Olympic short program but dropped off the podium in the free skate with a fall on their throw.

U.S. champions Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, 15th at the Olympics, made the top 10 in all of their four world championships appearances with a best finish of seventh. The last U.S. pairs medal came in 2002, the nation’s longest drought in any figure skating discipline.

The Knierims were the only U.S. pair in PyeongChang, but in Milan they’re joined by Deanna Stellato and Nathan Bartholomay.

Stellato earned singles silver at the 2000 World Junior Championships, then retired at age 17 due to hip injuries. She came back at age 32 in 2016 in pairs and, with the Sochi Olympian Bartholomay, took bronze at this year’s nationals.

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MORE: Best figure skating moments from PyeongChang