NEW YORK – Cal freshman swimming sensation Missy Franklin added to her long list of accolades Wednesday night when she was named the Sportswoman of the Year for an individual sport by the Women’s Sports Foundation at the 34th annual Salute to Women in Sports gala.
Franklin becomes the third Golden Bear to earn a Sportswoman of the Year honor, joining soccer’s Alex Morgan and fellow swimmer Natalie Coughlin. Morgan, one of the heroes of the USA’s gold-medal-winning squad at the 2012 Olympics, won in the team category last year, while Coughlin picked up the honor for those competing in individual sports in 2003.
Franklin was one of eight finalists for the award, a list that included Serena Williams, the No. 1-ranked women’s tennis player in the world; Inbee Park, the top-rated women’s golfer in the world; and world-record-setting pole vaulter Jenn Suhr. The others nominated were figure skater Mao Asada, snowboarder Kelly Clark, skier Tina Maze and Paralympic track star Tatyana McFadden.
“For Missy to win this award is a testament to a young woman who is striving to reach her full potential and use athletics as a vehicle to do so,” Cal women’s swimming & diving head coach Teri McKeever said. “At Cal, we talk about having it all, and Missy has demonstrated that through hard work, dedication and determination, this is possible. The Sportswoman of the Year honor is a fitting way to celebrate an extraordinary young lady, and I am honored to have her at Cal and swimming in a program with other exceptional student-athletes.”
Franklin followed up her performance at the 2012 Olympics, when she won four gold medals and a bronze medal, with a record-breaking performance at 2013 FINA World Championships. With six gold medals, she set a meet record for a woman and her nine career gold medals are the most in history. Franklin’s victories at the 2013 championships were in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke, 200-meter freestyle and as a member of all three relays. She also placed first in the 100 and 200 free and 100 and 200 back at U.S. Nationals heading into the world meet.
Among Franklin’s other honors are a 2013 ESPY Award for Best Female Olympian and the 2012 Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the country. Additionally, she was the 2012 USA and World Swimmer of the Year.
Franklin and her Cal teammates will be in the pool this weekend when they host Florida in two days of competition at Spieker Aquatics Complex in Berkeley. Action gets underway Saturday at 1 p.m. and again Sunday at 9 a.m.