Missy Franklin the only person left without a theory on career fade in Rio | Bryan Armen Graham

Four years ago Missy Franklin’s megawatt smile captured America’s imagination, but her Olympic fade in Rio is a riddle to all bar the swimmer herself

At seven minutes past midnight Katie Ledecky touched the wall after overtaking Australia’s Tamsin Cook and breaking away to capture her third gold and fourth medal overall of these Olympics, anchoring the United States’ women’s 4x200 freestyle relay team. When she wins the 800m freestyle on Friday night – and she certainly will barring a catastrophe – the 19-year-old phenomenon will complete the first 200-400-800 treble in 48 years and become the third American woman to capture four golds at one Olympics.

The second was Missy Franklin, who also won gold on Wednesday night, though she was nowhere to be seen on the podium as the anthem played in the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. The darling of the 2012 Olympics had been dropped for the final – passed over for the same relay she’d led off in London to win the third of her four golds – after swimming in Wednesday afternoon’s preliminary heat. Maya DiRado, Allison Schmitt and Leah Smith joined Ledecky in prime time, with Franklin, Melanie Margalis and Cierra Runge awarded medals for afternoon duties.

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