London swimming phenom Missy Franklin took home the Sullivan Award, given to America’s top amateur athlete each year by the AAU, at a ceremony in Florida Tuesday night.
“This award means a lot to me because of how much I’ve given up to be amateur,” Missy said during her acceptance. “I absolutely love being an amateur athlete, and to be a part of something so special that honors that is amazing.”
Though listed as a Regis Jesuit High School swimmer, Franklin is a bit better known for the five Olympic medals she won last summer in London to become the most decorated American female athlete at a single Games. But the humble young champion seemed to be more excited about the people who had won the award ahead of her, including famous Swimming USA teammate Michael Phelps.
“I’m looking at awards won before me, and there’s Tracy Caulkins and Bruce Jenner and Peyton Manning,” Missy added. “It’s incredible. All these athletes have won the award. It’s such an honor. I can’t believe my picture’s going up next to theirs.”
Franklin, who beat out Oregon all-around athlete Liz Brenner and weightlifter Darren Barnes for the award, turns 18 next month will start her two-year collegiate career at Cal Berkeley this fall before shedding her amateur status ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016.