Missy Franklin A Reason For Aurora, Colo., To Cheer

fromCPR

The city of Aurora, Colo., is relishing the opportunity to cheer for its hometown Olympian, Missy Franklin. Franklin is a 17-year-old swimmer.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

Aurora, Colorado is still coming to grips with the shooting last month that killed 12 people and injured dozens. But this week the city has something to celebrate, Olympic swimming sensation Missy Franklin. So far, she's racked up three medals in London and there may be more to come.

As Colorado Public Radio's Megan Verlee reports, Franklin's performance is giving Aurora a much needed boost.

MEGAN VERLEE, BYLINE: So the truth is Franklin actually lives in the city just south of Aurora, but she goes to high school here. And Mayor Steve Hogan is more than happy to claim her.

MAYOR STEVE HOGAN: I think we share her with Centennial.

(LAUGHTER)

HOGAN: But nonetheless, Colorado and the whole metro area is just proud of her and her accomplishments.

VERLEE: That pride is especially important these days with so much tragedy in the news. Hogan says his city received outpourings of support from around the world after the theater attack. But it's nice to be talked about for something else.

HOGAN: To have good things said now just makes it even better. It puts it in a whole different light and we're all just happy for that.

VERLEE: Franklin is a familiar presence in Aurora. People here see her at the local pools racing for the Regis High Swim Team. Online, young swimmers ask her to retweet them for luck before big meets and she obliges. Her bubbly, endlessly enthusiastic performance at the Olympics has likely cemented her place as a local role model.

Talking to reporters on Thursday, Franklin is already sounding wistful about her first Olympic Games.

MISSY FRANKLIN: I'm going to miss this so much and I know it. And it's been such an incredible meet even though I'm tired, trying to scoop up every last bit of energy that I have just to push through these final three days.

VERLEE: Sitting at the bar of the Legends of Aurora Sports Grill, three miles from the site of the theater massacre, patron Dave Obar(ph) is trying to puzzle out the rules of water polo as the women's team plays Spain. Obar has been following Franklin closely.

DAVE OBAR: Oh, I think it's awesome, you know. You always root for your local people and, you know, she's acknowledged what happened here in Aurora here recently. So it's just more reason to pull for her and make her, you know - we're proud of her and everything, so.

VERLEE: Even people here who aren't following the Olympics are keeping an eye on Franklin. Shaina Stanton(ph) hasn't watched any of the swimming but she knows Missy Franklin's height, 6'1, and her impressive shoe size, 13. As she talks about Franklin, Stanton's thoughts go to the mass shooting even though she, like many others here, seems hesitant to describe it.

SHAINA STANTON: After all the stuff that went down, you know, a week and a half, two weeks ago, to have this now happen is really nice. It kind of just takes some of the focus off some of the other parts of the city.

VERLEE: Despite how different the two events are, people say both the attack at the movie theater and Franklin's triumph at the Olympics seem to be having a similar effect, they're bringing Aurora together.

For NPR News, I'm Megan Verlee.

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