Missy Franklin as impressive falling short of medal as winning one

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Big photos below.
Centennial's Missy Franklin is among the breakout stars of the London Olympics -- and not just because of her edge-of-seventeen excitement over Justin Bieber's tweet after she won a gold medal.

Thus far, she's displayed a tremendous ability to balance youthful exuberance and beyond-her-years maturity -- qualities never so evident as when she didn't win her most recent race.

Yesterday, Franklin finished fourth in the 200 meter freestyle. Yet she seemed as happy for teammate Allison Schmitt, who grabbed the gold, as she would have been had she touched the wall first -- a reaction in marked contrast to Michael Phelps's pouting after taking silver in the 200 meter butterfly.

Franklin put everything into context with this tweet:

That's the kind of modesty we seldom see from world-class athletes these days -- and she cemented her selflessness with this followup:

The expectations for Franklin are sky high. This morning on ESPN Radio, former Olympic champion Gary Hall Jr. said she's the current performer likeliest to hit the career heights Phelps has reached "if she doesn't get derailed" -- something that's hard to imagine at this point. Yet rather than letting this pressure crush her, she's clearly having a great time in the U.K., as witnessed by this pair of photos she tweeted a few days back:

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missy franklin excited.jpg
Coloradans already have plenty of incentive to root for Franklin in future races: She's expected to take part in preliminary heats for the 100 meter freestyle beginning at around 12:40 p.m. Denver time today, with more events scheduled through Saturday. But anyone who cares about the true Olympic ideal should be rooting for her as well.

More from our Sports archive: "Missy Franklin wins Olympic gold -- and tweet from Justin Bieber."

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