Missy Franklin changes coach in cross-country move

Getty Images
0 Comments

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.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Kobe Bryant tries to coax Michael Phelps to unretire

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
Getty
0 Comments

LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
Getty
0 Comments

Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!