Missy Franklin’s head falls heavy today.
The defending U.S. Olympic Games gold medalist swimmer lost in her 200-meter backstroke semifinal on Thursday, providing a disappointing and sad end for one of the 2016 Olympic Games’ strongest favorites in that category.
Twenty-one-year-old Franklin, who won the same event four years ago in London — in addition to three other gold, one bronze medal, and a 200-meter world record (2:04.06) — was considered by many, according to the Washington Post, to be an odds-on favorite to take the gold medal in the games once again.
Instead, Franklin (who finished with a 200-meter time of 2:09.74) actually came in 14 out of 16 semi-finalists in the 200-meter heat, falling far behind Hungary’s “Iron Lady” Katinka Hosszu (2:06.03) and U.S. Olympic teammate Madeline “Maya” DiRado (2:07.53). Ironically, both Hosszu and DiRado finished well behind Franklin’s 2012 Olympic Games’ performance.
The undoubtedly sad swimmer also ended the 2016 Olympic Games with a time that Yahoo Sports noted was “more than five seconds off her  world backstroke swimming record.” Even in the face of the sad end to Franklin’s Olympic Games bid, however, she will no doubt be cheering on DiRado from the sidelines for tonight’s 200-meter final in Rio.
Despite the sad end in her own field of competition in Rio, Franklin will not leave the famed Brazilian city’s games empty-handed. The prolific swimmer was awarded a gold medal on Wednesday for her participation in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
Still, as noted by the Washington Post, Franklin’s fans are no doubt left with at least a touch of disappointment after the swimmer’s uncharacteristic meet in this year’s games.
“[Missy Franklin] is one of the most dominant back-strokers in the sport,” said the Washington Post’s Ava Wallace of the much touted swimmer, noting that “she [also] won gold at the 2011 and 2013 world championships in the [backstroke] event, and silver in 2015.””
As a bit of a sad side note, Franklin also did not qualify for the final in the 200-meter women’s freestyle semi-final race, finishing 13th. Of course, Wallace noted, freestyle has never traditionally been Franklin’s “strongest stroke.” Freestyle and backstroke were the only races for which Franklin qualified this year at the U.S. Olympic Games Trials in Omaha, Nebraska.
Conversely, it seems like light years ago — Franklin was just 17-years-old in the 2012 Olympic Games — that the swimmer took the women’s competitive swimming world by storm.
“I’m disappointed not to be able to represent my country [in the Olympics’ finals],” said the sad Franklin, also per Yahoo News, despite admitting that she was “glad this is over. You know, it’s been a really hard year for me and it’s going to take some time so that’s what I plan to do, spending quality time with my family and getting back in my feet.”
“I worked as hard as I could but I fell short,” said Franklin of the disappointing end to her Rio experience. “I wish there was an explanation.”
“I felt like David facing Goliath,” concluded a clearly frustrated Missy Franklin in reference to how she was handily defeated in her favorite event.
In a sad note following the sad end of her Olympic Games bid for 2016, Franklin would continue, per Yahoo News, noting “But I didn’t have any stones in my pocket.”
Or perhaps, given her official lap time, Missy Franklin was carrying all of the stones in Rio in her pocket.
[Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images]