Missy Franklin, a U.S. high school student who competes as an amateur, won her first gold medal of the London Games in the 100-meter backstroke.
Franklin finished in a time of 58.33 seconds, ahead of Emily Seebohm of Australia in 58.68 and Aya Terakawa of Japan in 58.83.
Seebohm, a 20-year-old who had made the finals with an Olympic record 58.23 in qualifying, reached the Olympics despite catching swine flu last year, which led to her collapsing after competing in the 100-meter backstroke final at the Australian championships. She also was treated for tonsillitis, bronchitis and pancreatitis in 2011.
Nicknamed ”Missy the Missile,” the 17-year-old Franklin from Centennial, Colorado, is competing in seven events at the games, the most attempted by a U.S. female swimmer. She won five medals, including three golds, at last year’s world championships in Shanghai and set a national record in the 100-meter backstroke of 58.85 seconds at last month’s U.S. swimming trials.
Franklin started swimming in classes with her mother when she was 6 months old, and still competes for her high school. She has declined offers of sponsorship in order to maintain her amateur status and eligibility to compete in college.
The 6-foot-1 (1.85 meters) swimmer said at a news conference last week that she was so excited about her Olympic debut that she was “literally bouncing off the walls.” She said she had asked Michael Phelps, her U.S. teammate and record 14-time gold medalist, for advice about going to college after the games.
Three world records have been broken in the first two days of the swimming at the Aquatics Centre designed by Zaha Hadid, where the roof was leaking last night during heavy rain. Four years ago in Beijing, Phelps won a record eight gold medals in a swim meet that produced 25 world records.