Teen star Missy Franklin 'new Michael Phelps'

14:28, Aug 03 2012
Missy Franklin
The teenage Olympic star from Colorado, Missy Franklin, is choosing education over big dollars.

She's the smiling, dancing, world-record breaking, gold-medal winning teenager dubbed 'the female Michael Phelps' who is about to give up millions in endorsements to go to college and get a good education.

Is it possible to get any more apple pie than Missy Franklin?

There have been any number of storylines threading their way from the Olympic pool in London this week. But between the improbable rise of Chinese star Ye Shiwen, the stuttering start to the Olympic career of James Magnussen and the majesty of the untouchable Phelps, Franklin has stamped her name as a global star of the future.

That's not to say Franklin isn't a headliner now. It's just that the 17-year-old from Colorado has the kind of infinite upside that could see her be the undisputed queen of the pool in Rio in four years' time.

The comparison with Phelps is lofty, but has some grounding in physiology at the very least.

Like the Olympic great, she brings the kind of frame to the pool that makes her look she was created in a lab after a bespoke request by Team USA swimming coaches.


She stands 185cm tall, boasts a wingspan of 193cm and barrels her way up the pool on the end of her size 13 feet. In comparison, Phelps is 193cm tall size, has a wingspan of 200cm and has size 14 feet.

Franklin's powerful shoulders have kept her churning along in a marathon program of seven events.

On the evidence of Thursday night's fifth place in the 100m freestyle final, it may have been over-ambitious.

Franklin, whose full name is Melissa Jeanette, would have none of it.

Still being propelled by the kind of boundless enthusiasm a 17-year-old has at the Olympics, she said there was no reason she couldn't add to her already impressive medal haul of bronze (4x100m relay), gold (100m backstroke) and gold (4x200m relay).

She is one of the gold medal favourites in the 200m backstroke tomorrow and should win another gold with the medley relay team on the final night. If they gave her a bike, she'd probably turn up at the velodrome and have a crack.

"I'm only 17. There's no such thing as fatigue," Franklin said.

The only sign of her going off the boil is that she left her Team USA jacket in her room.

"I think maybe organisational fatigue is setting in," she giggled to American reporters, who giggled along with the kind of smile that already has sports agents lining endorsement deals by the dozen.

But those endorsement deals are going to have to wait. Franklin, still trying to be a normal kid in high school, has reportedly decided to delay what could be a lucrative career as a professional member of the USA swimming squad to go to college and compete in the NCAA, which is a strictly amateur competition.

Marketing experts have said the decision could cost her millions of dollars in deals, where she could have been flashing her sparkly smile on toothpaste commercials or statuesque figure in sports apparel.

Sports agent Evan Morgenstein told USA Today Franklin could have earned as much as $US2 million had she cashed in on Olympic fame.

But he believes the deals will be there if she remains a force in the lead-up to Rio in 2016.

"The money will be there in four years," Morgenstein said.

"In my experience, most of the corporations will come after her about 12 to 18 months before the next Olympics.

"Rio is in 2016 so it would be some time after her sophomore year [of college].

"I think they'd come after her with a vengeance to sign her up for Rio."

The Games haven't been all fun and games for Franklin. She attends school in Aurora, Colorado, where a gunman burst into a movie theatre and killed 12 people. Franklin has dedicated her efforts in London to the victims of the massacre.