No reason why India can't swim: Missy Franklin

The five-time Olympic gold medallist swimmer and former Sportswoman of the Year awardee Missy Franklin was moved by the girls from Yuwa.

Missy Franklin won the Laureus Sports Woman of the Year award in 2014, at the age of 19.   -  P.K. AJITH KUMAR

Missy Franklin could not control her tears when she spoke about how moved she was by the inspiring tale of the girls from 'Yuwa' - the Jharkhand-based NGO run by an American couple that won the Laureus Sport for Good award.

"These girls have shown what sport could do to lives and their success is the highlight for me from this year's Laureus Awards," five-time Olympic gold medallist Franklin told Sportstar, shortly after the Laureus World Sports Awards ended at the Sporting Club in Monte Carlo late on Monday night.

"I consider it as a great honour that I have been inducted into the Laureus Academy." It has been a homecoming of sorts for her. She was the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year in 2014. She was just 19 then. Now four years later, she has retired. She took that decision a couple of months ago.

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"It was a very tough decision, but I had to take it because I was in too much pain and there wasn't much I could do with my shoulder injury," she said. "Yes, I know had another Olympics or two in me still, but at least I could take heart from the fact I have five golds at home."

Four of those medals came in 2012 at London, whose Aquatic Centre she scorched at the age of 17. She had triumphed in the 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke -- her World record in it is still intact -- 4x200m freestyle relay and 4x100m medley relay.

She admits it isn't easy staying away from the pool. "I was put into water by my mother when I was six months old, as she couldn't swim and didn't want me to be like her," she said. "In America, every kid is taught to swim. That's what India needs to do if it wants to do well in swimming," said Franklin, who is fascinated by the country and Hinduism.

"There is no reason why India couldn't do well in swimming. But children need to be taught when they are very young. It has to be a cultural thing, as it is in the United States."