Youngest Athlete in 2012 Olympics: Why Missy Franklin, Not Ryan Lochte, is the New Michael Phelps


While the media and its commercial sponsors continue fixated in the rivalry between swimming alpha male Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, while underreporting other cool facts of the 2012 Olympics (such as the fact that this is the first time female Olympians outnumber male ones in Team USA), fans are refocusing their attention on 17-year-old swimmer Missy Franklin who this year could achieve a pretty remarkable feat of her own.

Franklin, who qualified for seven events at last month's Olympic trials, will have the chance to win as many gold medals as fellow swimmer Natalie Coughlin won in the 2008 Beijing Olympics – a total of six, which made her “the female Michael Phelps.”

But this year, that title could go to Franklin who was called “a stud” by Phelps himself, and could easily steal the show from the 2008 Beijing games 8-time gold medalist and his rival Ryan Lochte. Franklin, who swam the 200-meter backstroke in 2:06.12 at the trials (the fastest time in the world this year) could break the Olympic record time of 2:05:24 -- bringing many Olympic medals home in the process.

However, Ryan Lochte could eclipse this potential historic moment just as Michael Phelps overshadowed Natalie Coughling’s feat in 2008 -- due to our nation's fixation on male athletics and athletes -- in all levels from high school all the way to professional. 

And the fact that Missy Franklin is swimming not for personal gain but to bring some closure to the victims of the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting makes her story even more remarkable. Franklin, who trains and goes to school in the very same town shaken by the tragedy of the Dark Knight Rises shooting, has dedicated all her Olympic races to the victims of the shooting. She's also vowed to keep the victims and their families in her thoughts and prayers at all times, which makes her already a champion without having even stepped on the podium yet.