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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