Missy Franklin's mom: 'She's always been smiling'

Missy Franklin caught the nation's attention for a smile as bright as the Olympic gold medal she won for the 100-meter backstroke Monday and an attitude as if she's never had a down day in her life.

“Missy is just always like that. She’s always been smiling, happy,” her mother, D.A. Franklin, told TODAY Tuesday. “I think she smiled when she was born. She’s just a happy child.”

Franklin, the 17-year old from Centennial, Colo., captured the spotlight as much for her bubbly all-American spirit, in full view after emerging victorious from her competition Monday, as for her first Olympic medal. She secured the win a mere 14 minutes after finishing a qualifying semi-final heat for another event, the 200-meter freestyle.

Franklin’s parents, in an interview with TODAY, said it may have proved crucial that she was allowed to keep warm in the nearby diving well which swimmers are normally not allowed to use – between the two events.

“Fourteen minutes is as tight as she has ever done,” her father, Dick Franklin, said.

Franklin told TODAY's Hoda Kotb that she didn’t realize she had won until she glanced at the scoreboard. 

“It’s so hard to tell by looking up there and seeing,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Because her parents are Canadian, they offered their daughter the option for swimming for Canada, a suggestion to help lessen the pressure. They said their daughter refused.

“She’s a Colorado girl,” said her mom, crediting all the support she has received from her hometown pool and high school.

Although Missy Franklin’s Olympic potential was spotted by family friends who told them “she’s the real deal” when she was around nine, her grandmother knew much earlier. She spotted the talent at the girl’s first swim meet when she was five.

“She said, ‘she’s going to be an Olympian someday’ and I said, ‘shhhh.'” D.A. Franklin said with a laugh. “It was very embarrassing.”

But Grandma was right and now everyone is a believer, including one of Missy Franklin’s favorite singers, Justin Bieber, who tweeted about her win.

“Heard @FranklinMissy is a fan of mine. Now I’m a fan of hers too! CONGRATS on winning GOLD! #muchlove.”

Franklin tweeted in response: “I just died. Thank you!”

More: Natalie Coughlin: I could swim again in London 
Shawn Johnson's dare: Ready, set, jump for TODAY! 
Video: Matt Grevers: Gold-winning swim 'felt pretty good' 
Read all of TODAY's 2012 Olympics coverage!

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Discuss this post

I thought it was awesome when she won, but NBC partially ruined it for me. I was waiting for her to climb up to her starting spot for the race (was watching the tape delayed primetime), they break for commercial and it says, "Join Matt Lauer tomorrow morning on TODAY as he talks to Missy Franklin about her first Gold Medal" And then they returned to the race. Ugh. I'm like, they couldn't have waited 15 minutes to show that commercial? And whose brilliant idea was it to show that one right at the moment?

  • 2 votes
Reply#1 - Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:16 AM EDT

She's great, but of course she's always smiling She's only 17 with the world at her feet.

  • 1 vote
Reply#2 - Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:55 PM EDT

I am the only one confused about these "micro fiber towels" the swimmers and divers all use. I saw that female tandem USA diver last night with a cold sore and the whole event she was wiping herself with the towel, using it on her face, dipping it back in the pool wringing it out. Did it occur to her this could be the cause of her cold sore? I don't get it. It's gross. jmho. ;)

  • 1 vote
Reply#3 - Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:39 PM EDT

Congratulations to Missy on her win!

  • 1 vote
Reply#4 - Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:57 PM EDT

The piece on NBC nightly news was wonderful as it told us who Missy is and there should be more. !!!!!! We do not need what bleeds leads on our news , we need to see more about Missy and those like her ! An inspiring HUMAN BEING

  • 1 vote
Reply#5 - Wed Aug 1, 2012 10:02 AM EDT
MichJorDeleted

This is so cool! After the recent tragedy in CO we all are ready to see some 'miracles' happen. Way to go--Melissa Jeannette Franklin!! You are inspiring & I am so happy for you & your team mates! GO TEAM USA. This crowning achievement will probably be one of the best in your life!!! And at 17! Your mother & father must be over the moon w/ excitement, knowing the pride that comes from watching their child exceed & achieve.

    Reply#7 - Fri Aug 3, 2012 4:46 AM EDT

    Missy, you have a window of opportunity in front of you, and this sort of door does not come along every day. Your education is important but college is not going any where. This moment of fame could be temporary, please seize it, you will never regret it. Trust that the universe has your greater good in mind and you are going to live this life BIG. God Bless You!!!

      Reply#8 - Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:01 AM EDT
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