Swim prodigy’s heartbreaking end at 23
American swimmer Missy Franklin has announced her retirement at the age of 23, ending a successful career in which she won five Olympic gold medals.
She was one of the stars of the 2012 London Games, where as a 17-year-old she won the 100 and 200 metres backstroke events, the latter in a world-record time. Franklin was also part of two victorious US relay teams.
She never improved her personal-best times from London, but made the US team for the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she picked up another relay gold after swimming in the heats.
"This was perhaps the hardest letter I've ever had to write ... Today, I announce my retirement from competitive swimming," Franklin wrote on Twitter.
She explained her reasons for retiring in an article for ESPN.com. "I've been in too much pain, for too long, to go through another surgery with a longer recovery time and no guarantee it would even help," she wrote.
"It took me a long time to say the words, 'I am retiring.' A long, long time. But now I'm ready."