Missy Franklin Named Country’s Top Amateur Athlete

The Olympic star—and Regis Jesuit High School senior—beat two others Tuesday for the honor.
April 17 2013, 12:35 PM

Colorado superstar swimmer Missy Franklin was named the nation’s top amateur athlete Tuesday night in Florida, beating out a three-sport college star and a champion weightlifter.

The 17-year-old Franklin won the honor, the James E. Sullivan Award, for her athleticism, sportsmanship, and efforts beyond swimming—which have included working with children. “This award means a lot to me because of how much I've given up to be amateur,” Franklin said in a speech Tuesday at the Amateur Athletic Union headquarters in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. “I absolutely love being an amateur athlete and to be a part of something so special that honors that is amazing.”

Franklin— a Regis Jesuit High School senior who was the most-decorated female athlete at the London Olympics—beat out University of Oregon athlete Liz Brenner and weightlifter Darren Barnes for the award. In addition to the Sullivan Award, she has been named  the USA swimmer of the year and the FINA world female swimmer of the year.

After her Olympic successes, Franklin spurned potentially millions of dollars in endorsement deals to retain her amateur status. She will swim for the University of California later this year.

For more on the superstar, read my profile of Franklin that appeared last year in 5280.