OTHER SPORTS Swimmer Amanda Beard fails to qualify for London

Former teenage gold medal winner’s career looks over after missing out on fifth Games

July 2, 2012

Omaha, Nebraska: Amanda Beard’s international swimming career could be over for good after she missed out on qualifying for her fifth Olympics and declared she wanted to have another baby.

Beard, who charmed the sporting world when she won a gold medal in relay as a 14-year-old at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, failed to make the United States team for London when she finished fifth in Saturday’s 200 metres breaststroke, an event she won at Athens eight years ago.

Now 30, Beard climbed out of the pool and flashed a smile to the crowd, who stood and applauded her. If she was disappointed, she did not show it.

“I’m at a point in my life where I’m really proud of myself,” she told reporters. “I keep pushing myself and chasing my dreams and having fun while I’m doing it so I really can’t be disappointed.”

Beard said missing out on London was a blessing in disguise.

“My husband and I want to start trying to have a second child. So there’s a silver lining. Baby number two, that’s a good thing for me,” she said.

Beard recently released a book about her life and the secret battles she faced.

In the book, she revealed that she celebrated her Atlanta success by drinking alcohol for the first time and in the years that followed, she began abusing harder drugs, including ecstasy, cocaine and LSD.

She also got involved in bad relationships with other famous sportsmen that turned sour, and became so concerned about her looks — even though was an in-demand model — she battled bulimia.

While she continued to be successful in the pool, breaking world records and adding to her stockpile of medals, her private life was getting worse.

Unable to cope, she started cutting herself and was eventually diagnosed with clinical depression, which ultimately helped turn things around.

Now happily married with a son, part of her rehabilitation was returning to swimming and trying to make the Olympic team even though she knew the odds were stacked against her.

“I’m very proud that I’ve pushed myself, I’m 30 years old, so things aren’t as easy as they were when I was younger, but I still enjoy it, still having fun,” she said.

“I’m not heartbroken, not disappointed with myself at all. Fifth in the United States, you have to put things in perspective, and that’s not that bad.”

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