The age of retirement in sports is always changing. And it can be different in every sport. There has long been a mentality in many sports that athletes should play until they are not longer able to, either because of health or skill level. This way of thinking is slowly beginning to change, at least within some sports.
Well, Olympic simmer, Missy Franklin, has decided to retire at the age of 23. Let’s take a look at her career and why she wanted to exit the sport at such a young age.
Franklin famously won four gold medals in her first Olympics in 2012. Her outspoken nature made her a favorite of Team USA in the 2012 Olympics in London. Unfortunately, Franklin has been dealing with shoulder pain since 2016. She says her shoulder is really what got her thinking about retirement.
Since April of 2016, Franklin has had major issues with her shoulder. Almost three years of consistent pain was enough for Franklin to reconsider her future. She says that she’s ready to get healthy and put the pain behind her; which means no more swimming. Beyond that, Franklin is ready for what may come next in her life, be it marriage, a family, or something else.
Missy Franklin’s Accomplishments
At the London Olympics in 2012, Missy Franklin became the first woman from Team USA to win four gold medals at an Olympics. No swimmer, or any athlete had ever done this before. The next year, in Barcelona, she won six gold medals at the World Aquatics Championships.
After back-to-back performances such as these, there was talk that Franklin could become the Michael Phelps of women’s swimming. And she had plenty of time to do it. She was only 18 years old when she stole the show at the 2013 World Aquatics Championships.
Franklin easily could have turned professional at this point. But she elected to go to college, attending the University of California-Berkeley. She kept the accolades coming with a NCCA Championship in 2015. But college also introduced her to a back injury that was difficult to recover from.
Looking Ahead To Rio
Things didn’t go quite as well for Franklin after her 2015 NCAA Championship. She didn’t get a gold medal at 2015 World Championships. But still, fans were excited to see her compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Franklin upped her training regimen as she got closer to the 2016 Olympics. But her shoulder was in quite a bit of pain. Four months before the Olympics, she was in too much pain to compete in a Pro Swim Series event and had to withdraw.
In any case, Franklin did make it to Rio and did compete. But she didn’t have the performance she was hoping for. She won a gold medal in the 4×200 meter freestyle relay. But compared to her four medals in the previous Olympics, this was not an impressive performance.
Looking back at her time in Rio, Franklin says she is grateful she made it through. She was in a lot of pain at the time and was battling mental health issues as well. It was certainly the most difficult time in her career. But she is happy with her decision to retire and looking forward to what life after swimming might bring.