at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Teenage US swim star Missy Franklin has said she is ready to follow in Michael Phelps' golden footsteps after she collected four gold medals and broke two world records on her Olympic debut in London.
Over the eight-day swim programme, the bubbly 17-year-old -- who smatters each interview with the word 'awesome' -- won the 100m and 200m backstroke titles, plus earned golds with the US 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley relay teams.
She broke Kirsty Coventry's three-year-old women's 200m backstroke world record and on Saturday swam the opening backstroke leg of the 4x100m medley relay which bettered the world record set by China in 2009.
Franklin will be just 21 at the next summer games in Rio de Janeiro, and has proved she has the potential to win many more titles and has learned from watching Phelps end his career in London to bow out with 18 Olympic golds.
“Getting to know Michael, to cheer for him, to watch him and see him become the most decorated Olympian of all time has been awesome,” she said.
“It is so inspiring for me and gives me so much motivation.
“I don't think his shoes will ever be filled. I think his footsteps are huge, but maybe I can make little paths of my own next to his.”
At 6ft 1in, Franklin has size 13 feet (“We call them built-in flippers,” says her father) and she announced herself with five medals, including three golds, at last year's world championships in Shanghai.
She has shunned numerous endorsement and sponsorship deals to remain an amateur and one lucky US college is going to gain a four-time Olympic champion when she graduates from her Colorado high school next year.
“Over the next four years, I know I'll have so much fun, I have my senior year, I need to pick a college and go there,” she said.
“That is what I am focusing on now and hopefully I'll be at 2016.
“I am definitely just taking (each Olympics) one at a time, I have taken so much motivation from being on that podium and seeing the flag go up.”
Despite possessing the stamina to have won eight gold medals in Beijing, even Phelps was heard to mutter 'how do these girls have so much energy?' before watching Franklin breeze through her seven-event programme in London.
“I got all my energy from my team-mates and coaches, they have been incredibly supportive,” she said.
“Just getting out of each race and seeing everyone with a smile on their face saying 'congratulations, only so-many more race'. It is awesome to have that support.”
Despite a barrage of questions, Franklin breezed through each press conference in London with giggles and smiles. Her girl-next-door charm makes her an ideal candidate for her future plans to be a broadcast journalist.
“We can all get a little grumpy. Being here in this type of experience with these team-mates around me, it is impossible to get grumpy,” she said when asked if she ever gets the blues.
Franklin insists she has picked up numerous tips from watching Phelps bring down the curtain on his career with four gold medals and two silvers in London to finish as the most decorated Olympian of all time.
“Just watching Michael swim is beautiful,” she said with awe.
“Just what he does and watching him move through the water, you can tell he does what he is meant to do.
“To see that and be on team with him. He is a huge part of Team USA, he has done so much for swimming and we are all going to miss him so much.” – AFP