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In Different World, Beard Gets Bronze

September 22, 2000|LISA DILLMAN

SYDNEY, Australia — She wasn't supposed to be a factor at the U.S. Olympic trials, and there was Amanda Beard, securing a spot on the team.

The same thing happened here. Beard, 18 of Irvine, was almost an afterthought on a team full of stars, a nice change for her. She qualified eighth in the semifinals for the 200-meter breaststroke, barely making the final and won a bronze medal, finishing third from a very difficult position, Lane 8.

"I wouldn't have done anything different," said Beard, who finished in 2:25.35. "I'm here. This was the way it was supposed to have happened. Look at what can happen if you keep working. It's harder now with nobody having any faith in you."

Agnes Kovacs of Hungary won the gold in 2:24.35. Kristy Kowal of Reading, Pa., was second in 2:24.56.

Beard's coach at Arizona, Frank Busch, gave her the race strategy.

"He told me I had nothing to lose, that I should push it from the start, go for it all and just hang on," she said. "For the first time in my career, that's what I did."

The final 50 was difficult, coming back from fourth place. But Beard made it and had a bronze to add to the collection of her two silvers and gold medal from 1996. So much had changed since her Olympic debut as a 14-year-old sprite, but not her fighting spirit.

"I was tired," Beard said. "I kept saying to myself, 'I have nothing to lose. The wall is right there. The pain will go away in a second.'

"It's nice when you don't feel pressure . . . when people don't even know you're here. This was a different world."

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