LOS ANGELES • Missy Franklin, the 2012 World Swimmer of the Year, announced her retirement on Wednesday aged just 23, citing intense pain from shoulder injuries that have dogged her for nearly three years.
"This was perhaps the hardest letter I've ever had to write... Today, I announce my retirement from competitive swimming," she wrote on Twitter.
She also explained her reasons for retiring in an article for ESPN.
"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," the American said.
"It took me a long time to say the words, 'I am retiring.' A long, long time. But now I'm ready. I'm ready to not be in pain every day."
Franklin was 17 when she won the 100m and 200m backstroke events at the 2012 London Olympics, the latter in a world-record time that still stands more than six years later.
She was also part of two victorious US relay teams, winning the 4x100m medley and 4x200m free.
She then picked up six golds at the 2013 Barcelona World Championships, but never improved her personal best times from London.
She struggled to replicate her teenage performances after first experiencing bad shoulder pain in early 2016. She still made the US team for the Rio Olympics, however, where she picked up another relay gold after swimming in the heats, before having surgery on both shoulders last year.
"I'm ready to become a wife and, one day, a mother. I'm ready to continue growing each and every day to be the best person and role model I can be. I'm ready for the rest of my life," Franklin added.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE