Franklin, Grevers thwarted at US Olympic trials

Missy Franklin of the United States competing in a heat of the women's 200m freestyle during the US Olympic trials on Tuesday. Franklin, who won four gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, has not yet made the team for Rio.
Missy Franklin of the United States competing in a heat of the women's 200m freestyle during the US Olympic trials on Tuesday. Franklin, who won four gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, has not yet made the team for Rio. PHOTO: REUTERS

OMAHA (Nebraska) • Missy Franklin and Matt Grevers yesterday became the latest big names to fail to qualify at the US swimming trials for the Rio Games, after Ryan Lochte had already missed out on a chance to defend his 400m individual medley crown.

Franklin, whose four gold medals in London included the 100m and 200m backstroke, could manage only seventh place in the 100m back won by Olivia Smoliga in 59.02sec.

Kathleen Baker finished second in 59.29 to put herself on the road to Rio.

The only swimmer to finish behind Franklin was 33-year-old Natalie Coughlin, who won gold in the event in the 2004 and 2008 Games.

"Oh my gosh, it was a star-studded field," Smoliga said.

"To have all those girls in there, and I know every single one of them, so it's so comforting to have them in the ready room."

"You know they're going to put up such a great race, such a great fight, and it was a fight," she added.

FALLING BEHIND THE PACE

I am feeling more pressure than I ever have before. Right now, I need to make the team in whatever way that looks like.

MISSY FRANKLIN, American swimmer, after failing to qualify for the Olympics in the 100m backstroke.

Franklin faced an uphill battle after posting the seventh-fastest semi-final time, and the 21-year-old could not produce a miracle from lane one.

Her time of 1:00.24 left her 1.22sec off the pace.

Less than half an hour earlier, she eased into the final of the 200m freestyle with the fourth-fastest time in the semi-finals, which were led by the indomitable Katie Ledecky.

"I am feeling more pressure than I ever have before," Franklin admitted. "Right now, I need to make the team in whatever way that looks like."

Grevers, the men's 100m backstroke gold medalist in 2012, came up just short in that event, finishing third in a scintillating final won by Ryan Murphy in 52.26sec.

David Plummer grabbed the second Rio berth in 52.28sec, with Grevers out in the cold in 52.76.

"My heart breaks for Matt," Murphy said. "He's been dominant in that event for so long."

But the 20-year-old who won relay gold at last year's world championships has high hopes of keeping the 100m back title in US hands.

"Hopefully, we have a good shot of going one-two," he said.

Meanwhile, an eager Michael Phelps made his long-awaited appearance on Tuesday by posting the top time in the 200m butterfly heats that, for many fans, were the official start of the meet.

Phelps, racing on the third day of the eight-day meet, gave the crowd what they came to see by cruising through his heat in effortless and commanding style to clock one minute, 56.68 seconds and reach the evening semi-finals.

"I just wanted to swim, that was the most annoying part I think having to wait this long," said Phelps, who turns 31 today.

"I'm happy to get this one out of the way and just keep going."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2016, with the headline 'Franklin, Grevers thwarted at US Olympic trials'. Print Edition | Subscribe