By Rod Gilmour
KAZAN, Russia (Reuters) - American Missy Franklin admitted to disappointment at failing to win an individual world championship gold but said she was fully motivated for the year leading up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Alongside Katie Ledecky, Franklin was one of the stars of the 2013 championships when she won six gold medals, including three individual titles in Barcelona.
In Kazan, she took on a similar program, competing in the 100m and 200m freestyle, the 100m and 200m backstroke as well as three relays.
However, the 20-year-old experienced a mixed campaign as she failed to secure an individual gold -- despite keeping her ever-present smile throughout the week.
Asked what she would take away on a personal note from her meet, she said: “Honestly? A lot.
“For one thing I am really proud of myself. I have come a really long way in a couple of months and it gives me confidence to see what I can do in a year."
Franklin lost both her world 100m and 200m backstroke titles to Emily Seebohm of Australia.
Following her 200m backstroke silver on Saturday, however, she did show glimpses of her undeniable talent when she produced a brilliant anchor leg in the mixed 400m freestyle relay to help the U.S snatch a stunning gold in a world record time.
She also won a bronze apiece in the women’s 200m freestyle behind Ledecky and the 4x100m freestyle relay.
In the closing women’s 4x100m medley relay, Franklin swam the opening leg as the United States finished outside of the medals for the first time at a major championship.
“There is disappointment there but after those couple of months I am happy where I am and it’s a great motivator,” she told reporters.
Colorado-based Franklin turned professional this year but her preparations for the world championships were curtailed when she picked up a back injury at last year’s Pan Pacific Championships.
The United States missed the medal podium for the first time on any single day of competition on the second day of racing.
But the squad rallied to finish top of the swimming medals table -- with 23 -- meaning they have now been the leading nation at the last seven world championships.
Franklin praised record-breaker Ledecky’s performances in Kazan.
“Whenever she swims she has this ability to lift the entire team spirit,” she said of the teenager who won five golds and broke three world records in Kazan.
“That is something which is so, so special.
“It has been amazing watching her and I think everyone knows that there is only brighter things to come in the future.”
“She is more than capable of handling the expectations (in Rio). Every time she goes out there she can do her best and she is improving year after year.”
(Editing by Ed Osmond)