Q&A with Amanda Beard
Read Bryan Curtis's full interview with the Olympic medal winner.
The only thing more intriguing than watching Amanda Beard swim has been watching her grow up. In 1996, she was a made-for-NBC 14-year-old clutching her teddy bear on the Olympic medal stand. By her third Games, in 2004, Beard had, well, matured, posing for racy photo spreads in men's magazines and, for a time, even holding the dubious honor of world's most downloaded athlete. "People had the image of me with the teddy bearthis skinny, big-toothed little girland then all of a sudden I'm on the cover of a magazine wearing a bikini," she says. "But it was over eight years. To me, I was very slow growing up."
Beard quasi-retired after Athens to travel on behalf of sponsors like Speedo and Red Bull. But earlier this year she traded in the bikinis for race suits to make a run at the 2008 Olympics.
What are her chances? Beard is no Anna Kournikova. She set a world record in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2003 and has won seven Olympic medals. And at 25, she's young enough for a fifth Games. "I still love it, and so far I've been pretty good at it," she says. "Hopefully, I won't break something, and maybe I'll be around for 2012."