Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte adjust to fewer events in Rio

Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin
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Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte will be busy in the pool at the Rio Olympics. Just not as busy as they wanted to be.

The two popular stars from the U.S. swimming team four years ago in London have just three individual events between them in Rio, hardly the frenetic schedule they’ve grown accustomed to over the years.

Four years ago, Franklin swam four individual events and three relays, while Lochte had three individual events, plus two relays. Together, they won 10 medals.

This time, neither will defend their Olympic titles in two events. Franklin failed to qualify for the 100-meter backstroke at the recent U.S. trials, while Lochte, bothered by a groin injury, didn’t make the team in the 400 individual medley.

The perpetually upbeat Franklin put a positive spin on her reduced schedule that will give her more time in the stands cheering on her teammates.

“I’m still a second-time Olympian, I get to go to Rio, I get to be a part of this team,” she said.

Franklin’s seventh-place finish in the 100 back at trials had her in the unusual position of publicly working through major disappointment.

“You have this idea in your head that everyone’s careers are perfect all the time, and as soon as yours starts to waver a little bit you start wondering, ‘Oh my goodness, why is this happening?'” she said. “You sort of start to realize no one has the perfect career, no one makes every team in every event that they want to.”

At 17, Franklin was one of the biggest stars at the London Olympics, competing in seven events and winning four gold medals and a bronze. Away from the pool, she didn’t cash in right away since she wanted to compete collegiately.

After two years at California, Franklin turned pro last year, setting up major endorsement deals heading into Rio. She’s found it challenging balancing training with accommodating sponsors’ demands for photo shoots, commercials and appearances.

“It’s fun, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard,” she said. “It’s definitely more to juggle than what I had to in 2012. I definitely have some days when I wake up and I’m more tired than normal.”

Also making it difficult is Franklin’s inclination to please others, sometimes at her expense. She’s had to learn to say no and not feel guilty.

“She will literally look at somebody and say, ‘Have you had enough pictures? I’m going to start my practice now,'” her coach Todd Schmitz said. “I stand there and go, ‘Good, yes.’ I’ve always told her I will be the bad guy every single time, but I can’t always be there.”

But, while Franklin has more money in her pocket, it’s been a struggle to regain the form that made her the world’s most dominant female swimmer — a title ceded to fellow American Katie Ledecky.

“One of the things I’ve been trying to do this whole year is not compare myself to where I was in 2012,” said Franklin, who returned home to Colorado to train with Schmitz. “I came in here to be the best of who I am right now, not who I was four years ago.”

Franklin will be competing in the 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke in Rio, while Lochte swims the 200 IM. Both qualified to swim on the women’s and men’s 800 free relay.

Lochte turns 32 on Aug. 3, two days before the games open. He has 11 career medals going into his fourth Olympics.

“It’s a lot harder because I’m older,” he said. “I can’t put my body through certain practices or sets that I used to be able to do.”

In London, Lochte won the 400 IM on the first day of the eight-day competition, and then made what he called his biggest mistake of the games.

“I didn’t do the right recovery process after that win because I was just like, ‘Screw this, I’m happy,'” he recalled. “I think that kind of hurt me throughout the meet. Now that I’ve gotten more mature, I’m listening to my body more.”

He’s also listening to coach Dave Marsh, who will oversee the U.S. women’s team in Rio. After London, Lochte relocated his training base to Charlotte, North Carolina, and cut back his partying lifestyle in favor of more time in the pool.

“When he’s in the water working hard, he’s probably his most happy,” Marsh said.

After Rio, Franklin will return to college. Lochte is likely to keep swimming, as long as he’s still having fun.

“I said the day you finish is the day you’re going to meet up with a girl and have grandchildren,” his mother Ike Lochte said. “He just laughs at me.”

MORE: Move over Phelps: Two women entered in most swim events in Rio

South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

Lim Hyo-Jun
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Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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