The Other Way to the Olympics

Missy Franklin‘s way to the Olympics was from home:

One of America’s new sweethearts is rewriting the conventional rules on how young athletes and their families must sacrifice for their sport.

The 17-year-old Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin did not follow the standard, and much derided, formula for training. She did not abandon her home and support system once her swimming career took off.

She did not coach shop, trading up until she found a respected and feared champion maker. She did not follow the path of so many other young athletes, including those like Dominique Moceanu, the youngest member of the 1996 U.S. women’s gold-winning gymnastics team who has just published a book that chronicles her lonely and physically torturous years of training.

Franklin has been coached by the same local Denver guy since she was 7. And she has stuck with the same club, which doesn’t even have its own pool. And, even now, her training regiment is thought to be far less strenuous than other competitors.

Her physical attributes and mental strength are, of course,extraordinarily unique. But so too is her and her family’s refusal to follow the well-trod path to the Olympics.

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  • Steve Sherwood

    I have found myself wanting to create an idyllic, idolized picture of what her family, school, home environment must be like. I’m sure it’s not THAT perfect. That said, one can’t hear 22 year old swimmers talking about “I’ve done this my whole life. I’m tired and look forward to a break…” or watch the pressure 16 year old gymnasts are under as adults cram cameras in their faces and not feel like the Franklin’s have gotten a good bit right in the choices they’ve made.

  • Matt B.

    That’s a stark contrast to the young woman from China who only after she was done competing was told that her grandparents had passed away SEVERAL YEARS ago. Oh and by the way, your mom has had breast cancer but is in remission. You know, you wouldn’t want to distract an athlete when the Olympics are only a few years away.