Gold medal swimmer Missy Franklin fills in gap between her Olympic glory and Rio failure in ‘Relentless Spirit’

What happened to Missy Franklin? The Team U.S.A. swimmer went from being the golden girl of the 2012 London Olympics to utter humiliation this summer in Rio. She was only 17 when she won four gold medals and a bronze in London. Four years later at the Rio Olympics, billions watched Franklin’s agonizing failure to even make the finals in any of her individual events. In “Relentless Spirit,” Franklin tries to explain it herself but in the end she seems as mystified as anyone. The book is written with her parents, D.A. and Dick Franklin, a doctor and a business consultant, whose love and support for their only daughter has been unrelenting throughout. They raised Missy in Littleton, Co., both with busy careers but willing to set everything aside to support Missy’s budding Olympic ambitions. Their little girl grew into a 6-foot-1 woman with size 13 feet — or “flippers” as the family joked. Missy leaves it to her parents to narrate the story of the London Olympics where she came away covered in gold and glory. But she intervenes to detail what she considers her one single failure at the games. Franklin says she felt genuine joy when she surfaced from the 200-meter freestyle to see teammate Allison Schmitt celebrating her gold. Then she registered that she’d missed the bronze by only one-hundredth of a second. “I was despairing,” she writes. It was a shattering blow, one she used to fuel her drive to train harder, swim faster toward Rio. Franklin returned to finish her senior year at Regis Jesuit High School as a teenage celebrity with a pocket full of Olympic gold. Photographers trailed her every move. At Regis, Franklin had emerged as a prodigy in the pool, but she found another personal joy there as well. Her faith. As a freshman, she’d brought God into her life and converted to Catholicism. Continue Reading

Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin qualify for Rio Olympics at U.S. swimming trials

OMAHA, Neb. — Michael Phelps is heading back to the Olympics. So is Missy Franklin. Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, held off a stiff challenge from Tom Shields to win the 200-meter butterfly at the U.S. swimming trials Wednesday night. Phelps whipped around to look at his time — a bit slower than he probably would’ve liked — and held up all five fingers on his right hand. Yep, it’s Olympics No. 5, making him the first male swimmer to compete in that many Summer Games. Franklin, meanwhile, turned in one of the gutsiest performances of her career to earn a spot for Rio in the 200 freestyle. One night after she struggled to seventh in the 100 backstroke — an event she won four years ago in London — there was plenty of speculation that she’d be hard-pressed to qualify for any individual events at these games. Franklin herself sounded as though she’d be happy just getting on the team as a relay swimmer. Turns out, she’ll be busier than that. While Katie Ledecky romped to victory in the 200 free, earning a second individual event at the Olympics, Franklin rallied over the second half of the race to claim the second spot. Ledecky touched in 1:54.88, following up her easy victory in the 400 free. Franklin was next at 1:56.18, edging out Leah Smith by just under a half-second. Allison Schmitt, the defending gold medalist, settled for fourth but that will at least be good enough to get another star from the London Games on the team as a relay swimmer. Phelps, who retired after the last Olympics but soon reversed his decision, took the 200 fly in 1:54.84 — far off the world record of 1:51.51 he set at the 2009 world championships while wearing one of the high-tech suits that have since been banned. But there’s time to work on his speed between now and Rio. Continue Reading

Gabby Douglas, who won the all-around title at London Olympics, edges Missy Franklin as AP’s female athlete

When Gabby Douglas allowed herself to dream of being the Olympic champion, she imagined having a nice little dinner with family and friends to celebrate. Maybe she’d make an appearance here and there. “I didn’t think it was going to be crazy,” Douglas said, laughing. “I love it. But I realized my perspective was going to have to change.” Just a bit. The teenager has become a worldwide star since winning the Olympic all-around title in London, the first African-American gymnast to claim gymnastics’ biggest prize. And now she has earned another honor. Douglas was selected The Associated Press’ female athlete of the year, edging out swimmer Missy Franklin in a vote by U.S. editors and news directors that was announced Friday. Gregory Bull/AP Gabby Douglas salutes the crowd after winning all-around gold medal in gymnastics. “I didn’t realize how much of an impact I made,” said Douglas, who turns 17 on Dec. 31. “My mom and everyone said, ‘You really won’t know the full impact until you’re 30 or 40 years old.’ But it’s starting to sink in.” In a year filled with standout performances by female athletes, those of the pint-sized gymnast shined brightest. Douglas received 48 of 157 votes, seven more than Franklin, who won four gold medals and a bronze in London. Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open two years after her career was nearly derailed by a series of health problems, was third (24). Al Bello/Getty Images Colorado teen Missy Franklin rules the pool in London. Britney Griner, who led Baylor to a 40-0 record and the NCAA title, and skier Lindsey Vonn each got 18 votes. Sprinter Allyson Felix, who won three gold medals in London, and Carli Lloyd, who scored both U.S. goals in the Americans’ 2-1 victory over Japan in the gold-medal game, also received votes. “One of the few years the women’s (Athlete Continue Reading

When Harry met Missy: UK prince sings happy birthday to Olympic champion Missy Franklin ahead of Colorado Paralympic Games

When Harry met Sally, the two constantly quarreled. But when Prince Harry met Missy Franklin, she got a royal treat — her own birthday serenade. The British prince joined in a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday" on Friday evening, wishing the Olympic swimming champion a happy 18th birthday at a private golf club south of Denver. The veteran combat helicopter pilot and third in line to the British throne is in the Centennial State to meet with wounded soldiers who are competing in the Paralympic-style Warrior Games. The ceremonies began Saturday evening at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. While at the games, Prince Harry sat in a circle of 12 sitting volleyball team members, batting the ball around amid whoops and laughter. Franklin called meeting the grinning prince "the perfect way to end my 18th birthday," saying on her Instagram page that it was "an honor meeting him." The swimmer wowed during last year's London Olympics after winning four gold medals and a bronze at the age of 17, skyrocketing her to international acclaim. But Harry charmed more than just the Olympic champion, sharing his charisma with dignitaries, students, military personnel, and British expatriates at the posh clubhouse Sanctuary, a private golf course. He also met with Paralympic champion Jessica Long, who has a collected 12 gold medals from the past three games. She told London's Telegraph newspaper: "My London gold is now my favorite medal because he touched it." Colorado politicians like Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Michael Bennet, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock were all in attendance, according to the Denver Post. The prince is on a seven-day tour of the U.S., which started with a visit to Continue Reading

17-year-old Missy Franklin earns spot on Olympic swim team

OMAHA — On the bottom of the scoreboard that hangs above the pool inside the CenturyLink Center are an American flag and the five interlocking Olympic rings. Swimmers competing for positions can see them as they stroke their way between walls. “I love coming home, seeing those rings,” said Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old American sensation, who won the 100-meter backstroke final Wednesday night in 58.85 seconds to establish an American record at the U.S. Swimming Trials. Missy the Missile, as she is best known, made her first Olympic team with the win. A rising senior in high school who has yet to choose a college, Franklin was joined in the backstroke by four others, each under 18. They pushed Natalie Coughlin, the two-time defending Olympic champion and first woman to break 60 seconds in the event, into third place at 1:00.06. Rachel Bootsma claimed the second spot to edge Coughlin. “I gave it my best,” said Coughlin, who still has a chance to qualify for the U.S. team in the 100 freestyle later in the week. “It’s time for Missy.” The admiration was mutual. “I’d love to be on a team with Natalie,” Franklin said. “She’s one of the best women swimmers the sport has ever seen and probably ever will, so she’s done her job and no one can really fill her spot. “Hopefully we do an okay job with kind of helping (Team) USA with this backstroke.” Franklin entered the eight-day meet as the top seed in the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle. Earlier Wednesday, she advanced to the semifinals of the 200-meter freestyle. “I never thought this would come at 17,” she said after being awarded her medal. PHELPS WINS ONE The man with 14 Olympic gold medals struck back against rival Ryan Lochte in the 200-meter freestyle as he rebounded from a defeat in the 400-meter individual medley Monday. Phelps staved off a strong push Continue Reading

As Ryan Lochte stumbles again, Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni and U.S. women take center stage in Olympic swimming pool

LONDON — We always pretend to know, but then these are the Olympics, not the Yankees. These are events that we follow once every four years, not every day, not every inning and every pitch.Ryan Lochte the way we know Derek Jeter, don’t have a real feel for his strengths, weaknesses or performance under pressure.PHOTOS FROM DAY 3 OF THE LONDON OLYMPICS So we get to the pool and start writing about this rivalry between Lochte and Michael Phelps, as if there is nobody else that matters or could possibly supersede the duel in the pool. Except that it hasn’t worked out that way at all at the Aquatics Centre, at least not early on, and now all of us Olympics experts look as if we are not very expert at all.Missy Franklin, who may very well swim away with the most medals of any American here. Daniel Ochoa De Olza/AP Ryan Lochte. Never too late. It was a great day for U.S. swimmers Monday, even if it wasn’t a great one for Lochte. Matthew Grevers and Nick Thoman won gold and silver in the 100-meter backstroke. Plenty of gold, plenty of stories. We were just mining for them in the wrong place. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Gold-winning swimmer Missy Franklin gets Olympic rings tattoo

Missy the Missile got her first (and only) tattoo recently, of the Olympic rings. Missy Franklin shared her ink with her twitter followers on Thursday at 3:36 pm. PHOTOS: OLYMPIC ATHLETES WITH TATTOOS "All inked up," she tweeted. "AHH! Can't believe it! My one and only!" In future competitions, spectators will see the blue, yellow, black, green and red interlocking rings on her right hip. Franklin joins many fellow Olympians — including Michael Phelps, Elizabeth Beisel and Eric Shanteau — who have tattoos of this international symbol of unity. Daniel Ochoa De Olza/AP Missy Franklin, 17, after winning gold in the 100-meter backstroke. The 17-year-old swimmer earned four gold medals and one bronze at the London 2012 Olympics. After these impressive accomplishments, Franklin felt she secured the privilege to get the tattoo. "Getting a tattoo has never been something I ever thought I would do, but this one just has so much meaning to it and it is really something that you have to earn," she told the “Today” show. "Not a lot of people have the opportunity to get it," she said, "so I just feel like it's an honor to get it." The rings were designed by the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin to be a truly international emblem. "The Olympic flag has a white background, with five interlaced rings in the centre: blue, yellow, black, green and red," Coubertin explained. "This design is symbolic; it represents the five continents of the world, united by Olympism, while the six colours are those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time." Continue Reading

Michael Phelps wins gold medal in 100 butterfly, Missy Franklin sets world record in 200 backstroke

LONDON — Michael Phelps continued to collect gold medals on Friday, claiming first in the 100-meter butterfly, but the ripple effect of his career — 21 Olympic medals and a shot at one more — could be seen across the million-gallon pool.Missy Franklin, 17, and Katie Ledecky, 15, earned gold medals in the 200-meter backstroke and 800-meter freestyle, respectively. OLYMPICS 2012: DAY 7 IN LONDON BARBARA WALTON/EPA Missy Franklin (l.) is congratulated by teammate Elizabeth Beisel after setting a record in the women's 200-meter backstroke. Beisel takes silver in the race. Ledecky, one of six teenage females to collect a gold medal in the Games, sprinted ahead of the field in her 800-meter freestyle, stroking ahead of a world-record pace the majority of the laps. I understand.”[email protected] Continue Reading

Missy Franklin wins gold in women’s 100-meter backstroke at London Olympics

LONDON — Deep inside the Aquatic Centre, in the American team room, a nondescript space beneath the south stands surrounded by massage tables and competing contingents, Missy Franklin, Team USA’s 17-year-old sensation, prepared for her 200-meter freestyle semifinal early Monday evening. Prior to leaving for the ready room, Franklin, an effervescent presence, danced with teammate Allison Schmitt, also prepping for the race, as compatriot Elizabeth Beisel sang pop songs into her hairbrush.PHOTOS FROM DAY 3 OF THE LONDON OLYMPICSRELATED: LOCHTE FOURTH IN 200 FREESTYLE   Michael Sohn/AP Missy Franklin Missy Franklin Continue Reading

Olympics 2012: #NBCFail! Broadcast of Missy Franklin’s gold medal race ruined with promo announcing her as ‘first time gold medalist’ before race

Missy Franklin's gold medal win was one of the highlights of NBC's Olympics coverage on Monday night - but the network blew its own big moment right before her race with a promo advertising the star swimmer showing off her new medal. In the ad, which NBC aired before it showed Franklin compete in the 100 meter backstroke, the 17-year-old swimmer can be seen holding up her gold medal and embracing her family for the first time after her win. “When you’re 17 years old and win your first gold medal, there’s nobody you’d rather share it with,” the voiceover says, touting the Today show’s exclusive interview with Franklin, set to air the following morning. “We’re there when Missy Franklin and her parents reunite.” The spoiler seemed like an accident given that it came on the heels of NBC’s Dan Hicks acting as though the results were still a surprise. PATRICK B. KRAEMER/EPA Missy Franklin is on her way to triumph in the swimming competition. Pity NBC, already in deep water with viewers over its use of tape delay, really outdid itself by broadcasting the American swimmers gold before showing the winning race. Moments before the spoiler-laden ad aired, according to The Sporting News, he led to commercial break by saying, “How good can Missy Franklin be tonight? Finals of 100 coming back up.” The network was quickly slammed for its flub, as fans who had waited to see the results expressed their frustration on Twitter. Al Bello/Getty Images Missy Franklin celebrates with her gold medal for the Women's 100 Meter Backstroke on the third day of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30. “NBC I WAITED ALL F***ING DAY TO SEE IF MISS FRANKLIN WON GOLD AND NBC ADVERTISED HER BEING ON THE TODAY SHOW AFTER SHE WON,” Twitter user Rowen James wrote. “I can’t believe that NBC told me Missy Franklin won the gold 5 mins before they showed the Continue Reading