Missy Franklin Wins Gold: Colorado Teen Honors Aurora & America with Backstroke Victory

U.S. Swimming has a new Golden Girl.

Missy Franklin, a 17-year-old high school senior at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado — the town where the Dark Knight Rises Massacre occurred — has won the 100m backstroke at the London Olympics 2012.

And she achieved the incredible victory just 10 minutes after swimming a semifinal heat in the 200-meter freestyle.

“I’m so happy,” Franklin told reporters. “I knew that tonight was definitely going to be difficult, with that double, but I had a blast …”

Before the Olympics began, Franklin told reporters she’d be swimming in honor of the 12 dead and 58 wounded in the Aurora theater shooting: “Every single race I’m going to have that Colorado incident back on my mind.” She was training in France at the time of the shooting and feared for the safety of friends as she awaited news from home.

For a world-class swimmer, Franklin is unconventional in her rejection of bigtime coaching and agents, having chosen instead to pursue a traditional college path. But the young phenom, who also won a bronze in the 4X100 freestyle relay, is a natural powerhouse with a huge frame (6-foot-1), massive feet (size 13) and gigantic hands (8.5 inches from wrist to fingertip).

Franklin will swim seven events (100 and 200 backstrokes; 100 and 200 freestyles, three relays) in London and has been called a “Female Michael Phelps.” With her first gold in the bag, she appears to be on her way to that kind of superstardom.

Another legend told the Washington Post that the sky’s the limit for Missy:

“She can be as big as she wants to be,” said Amy Van Dyken, who became the first American woman to win four gold medals at an Olympics in the 1996 Games in Atlanta. “She has the potential to break the record I set in 1996. She can win five or six gold medals in London.”

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