Former Hilltopper and Olympian medalist talks about her accomplishments

 

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Hilltopper softball graduate Larissa Franklin became the third ever Olympic medalist in Western Kentucky University Athletics’ history just two weeks ago as she played on Team Canada’s bronze winning team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Tuesday, she spoke with News 40 about the experience.

A 2015 WKU graduate, Larissa Franklin made a huge accomplishment during this last two weeks as WKU softball’s first ever Olympic medalist and only the third Olympic medalist for the school.

In the bronze medal game against Mexico, Franklin said she is proud of helping set up her teammate to score the winning run.

Franklin says the experience was unlike any other and she is still in shock about her medal.

Once team Canada’s pitcher threw the last pitch and the bronze medal became a reality, Franklin says she was far out in the outfield.

“When that final pitch was thrown, we had so far to run in and that’s what was going through my mind on that last batter is ‘seriously I have to run all the way from this fence in and the infielders get to stay all close and get to have their celebration,’” said Franklin.

Franklin says she hopes to be an inspiration to other players, as one WKU Olympic gold medalist in swimming, was for her.

“I remember when I was there in 2015 Claire Donahue was training in the gym, and I saw her Olympic tattoo and I knew who she was and I wanted to do what she had done and it seemed so far away, my opportunity to do this, so to now be doing it and to look back at how inspired I was seeing her like I don’t fully understand the impact I can have but when I realize it it’s so cool to me,” said Franklin.

WKU’s head softball coach, Amy Tudor, was ecstatic to see one of her girls succeed in such an exciting accomplishment.

“She is an ultimate team player she tries to work on her own personal skills but also tries to impact the players around her and that’s why she’s so special to coach obviously she has a great talent but she’s enjoyable to coach and now just for me to be a fan of hers,” said Tudor.

Franklin and Tudor are planning a time for Franklin to come back to WKU soon so that she can meet the current softball team and offer advice and encouragement to the team.

Franklin played for WKU Softball during 2015 when the Hilltoppers won the Conference USA regular-season and tournament titles.

She plays center field and batted second for the Canadians throughout the team’s six Olympic contests.

A native of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Franklin joins Bernd Herrman and Claire Donahue as the only former Hilltopper student-athletes to earn an Olympic medal. Herrman competed on The Hill in 1975 before earning bronze with West Germany at the 1976 Montreal Games in the 4×400-meter relay event on the track. Donahue earned gold with the Team USA 4×100-meter medley relay swimming unit at the 2012 London event.

Softball returned to the Olympic Games after being left off at London 2012 and Rio 2016 so being able to play this year was a big deal.

Across the Games, Franklin produced four hits, three RBI, two runs, one walk and a double for Team Canada.

Canada went 3-2 through pool play, falling to the eventual silver and gold medal teams, USA and Japan, in 1-0 decisions.

She was a First Team NFCA All-Region selection and earned a First Team All-Conference nod as well from the league. She notched 70 hits on the campaign while posting 22 multi-hit outings – the third most by a WKU player in a single season.

Franklin tied the program’s longest hitting streak at 15 games while posting the team’s second-best single-season batting average at .417.