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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

Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m. Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of color in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and countryman Thomas Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Ireen Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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MORE: Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating

Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

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It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

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MORE: World Single Distances Championships broadcast schedule