During the Atlanta Games, America fell in love with Amanda Beard and her teddy bear. In Athens, conversation turned to seeing her bare (it all).
Sure, a lot has been made of her striking good looks, as well as the additional coin she’s made after scoring Olympic gold — sponsorship deals with Speedo, Red Bull, Mutual of Omaha, OroWeat, and Gateway — but in reality, Beard is a normal 22-year-old college senior with thoughts of dabbling in broadcasting and fashion after graduation.
From teddy bears to sharks, Angels to The Grateful Dead, Page 3 discovers there’s a lot more to this champion than a pretty face:
1. You recently surpassed Anna Kournikova as the world’s most downloaded female athlete on Google, MSN, Yahoo and Lycos. What are your thoughts on all of this attention?
Amanda Beard: Well, I don’t really realize I’m getting that kind of attention. People tell me that I’ve been downloaded, and all that kind of stuff, but it doesn’t affect or change me at all. And I think Anna Kournikova is absolutely beautiful.
When people say to me, “you’re like the Anna Kournikova who wins,” I definitely take it as a compliment, because she’s quite gorgeous. And I’m very serious about my sport — it’s great to be able to win and be compared to Anna.
2. With all these magazine covers and the media attention, are you starting to consider yourself more of a spokesperson/sex symbol or do you still think of yourself mainly as an athlete/swimmer?
I definitely think of myself as an athlete and a swimmer first, because without what I’ve done in the pool, there’d be no magazine shoots. So my first priority is swimming. Everything that comes along with it is just extra, and kind of mixes things up for me.
We won’t beat around the bush … Fill us in about your infamous FHM photoshoot with Logan Tom (volleyball), Haley Cope (swimming), Jenny Adams (long jump/hurdles) and Amy Acuff (high jump). Details please.
(Laughs) Well, I just shot with Haley Cope. It took us almost an entire day to do it, but the shoot was fun. I enjoy those things a lot. Interestingly enough, I’ve never met any of the other girls that are actually on the cover with us. They (FHM) did a great job Photoshop-ing that stuff.
In some ways, I was glad I wasn’t here (in the U.S.) when it launched. It’s a little embarrassing to go to the airport or the grocery stores and your face is right there, ’cause then if I’m looking for a magazine at the airport, people are like, “Wait a second, isn’t that you?” So, it’s nice to be away from all the hype and stuff. It helps keeps me grounded and thta’s really important to me.
3. The Olympics used to be contested in the nude. Do you think the Olympics should revert back to the birthday suit, and would you have any qualms about competing in such an Olympiad?
Here’s the thing, I think that some people you don’t want to see in their birthday suits, so I think it’s great that we don’t compete naked anymore. And personally, I wouldn’t want to; that would be quite embarrassing.
Speaking of suits, you wear a “shark skin” racing-style suit, what’s the technology behind that, does it really help?
Oh, yeah, it’s proven to be the fastest swimsuit. Actually, the swimsuit material is faster than your skin, that’s why people wear those full-body swimsuits — to decrease the drag in the water. So yeah, technology and these new swimsuits are a huge part of why swimmers are breaking world records .
4.Speaking of sharks what do you think of all these shark movies — “Shark Tale” and “Open Water”?
Yeah! (excited reaction to Shark Tale) but no, Open Water came out when I was gone in Greece — I want to go see it.
I read about your saving the dolphins, what’s that about?
I work with organization called Defenders of Wildlife. Primarily, I was working with dolphins but now I’m going to start working with manatees and grizzly bears, so that will be lots of fun. It’s just great for me. I’m getting really educated about all this stuff and then I try to educate other people as much as possible, particularly younger kids.
5.You first became known to everyone as that cute 14-year-old kid with the Teddy Bear. What happened to the bear, is he still around, did he make to trip to Athens?
No, he didn’t go to Athens. He’s quite big and bulky, so he’s kind of a pain in the butt to drag around. I told my dad to leave him at home because he’s fine just sitting at home. He’s actually at my dad’s house, actually no, I think he’s at my sister’s house right now. They like to kid me around with that kind of stuff. It’s kind of a family joke.
6. You have a total of seven medals now, three in Atlanta, one in Australia, and three from Athens. Where do you keep all these medals?
I keep them in my underwear drawer. For safekeeping … no one goes in there.
If you say so.
7. It was reported Michael Phelps listens to Eminem to get pumped up for a race. What do you do to prepare for a race, do you listen to music?
I do listen to music, and I also drink Red Bull before I swim, so that pumps me up a lot. And then, let’s see … I’m quite different from most swimmers, I listen to The Grateful Dead and some more relaxing, chilled-out music before a race.
What’s you’re favorite Dead song maybe … “Ripple”?
I like Sugar Magnolia.
8. Let’s talk breaststroke. What makes you the best? Are you about technique or endurance?
It’s all of that. I work hard at it. It’s a very technical stroke; there’s a lot of things that you have to be aware of, so I’m constantly working to perfect it. I also train for distance, so my endurance is quite good. I’m smaller than most of my competitors, which puts me at a disadvantage, but I definitely have a really strong, powerful kick.
Swimming is one of those sports that you have to put a lot of time into it. I train about five hours a day, which is quite exhausting when you try to train, have a normal high school life and attend social events … it definitely was hard. Then, I went through puberty so my body definitely changed. It’s definitely tough but I had great coaches, family and friends who didn’t put any pressure on me. They didn’t care if I swam or not; they just wanted me to be happy and smiling.
9. You just threw out the first pitch in Dodger Stadium. As a native SoCal gal, are you a L.A. Dodgers or Anaheim Angels fan?
I threw out the first pitch for the Dodgers and Angels just a couple of days apart, but I have to say I’m an Angels fan — they’re more my home team. But I have nothing against the Dodgers.
You also did an appearance at a NASCAR race. Are you a total gearhead now?
I love NASCAR! I think it’s awesome. I can’t watch it on TV necessarily, but I’ve gone to two races, and had so much fun. Actually, I was to Grand Marshall a race next weekend but I can’t because I have to leave for my swimming. (Note: Amanda will be competing Oct. 7-11 at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis at the World Short Course Championships) I was so bummed. It’s awesome though, and I get the royal treatment … last time, I sat in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s pit, and watched them do pit changes!
10. Of all your post Athens appearances, who was your toughest interview? Please don’t say Carson Daly!
(Laughs) It would probably be Howard Stern. It wasn’t tough, but you go into it a little nervous and on alert. Actually, I thought it went pretty well, he was actually quite respectful. That’s the only one that I really had to put a lot of thought into before I actually walked into the room to do the interview.
OK, which is most likely: Amanda goes for gold in 2008. Amanda decides to take up offer and pose for Playboy. Amanda dates Page 3 scribe?
Amanda goes for gold in ’08.