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Was Amanda Beard sick, distracted, or just too old to compete in Beijing?

August 13, 2008 | 12:54 pm

Amanda Beard, two-time Olympic gold medalist and US team captain, unveils her nude poster for People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta)

It was pretty hard not to notice Amanda Beard as the Beijing Olympics began, she was the one holding the nude poster of herself on behalf of PETA. But the US Team captain blew past the media in record time after failing to advance out of preliminaries Wednesday night in the 200-meter breaststroke, a shocker to all.

Times writer Lisa Dillman this morning wrote in the lead of "Amanda Beard goes from centerfold to just plain fold":

If only Amanda Beard moved as quickly through the water in the 200-meter breaststroke on Wednesday night at the Water Cube as she did afterward in the mixed zone -- which she ripped through at warp speed -- she might have avoided creating another first in her long Olympic career.

Beard had won a medal in the 200-meter breaststroke in the last three Olympic Games, including gold in 2004 in Athens. This time, she didn't even make it out of the heats, finishing 18th in 2 minutes, 27.70 seconds, nearly a half-second out of the last qualifying spot.

Later, Dillman speculated:

Had Beard, of UCLA's Team Bruin, simply missed her taper, or was there one? Perhaps she was feeling the same illness Ryan Lochte suffered a few days before the meet started? And, finally, was this it for the 26-year-old's swim career . . . time for an ode to a centerfold?

-- Tony Pierce

Amanda Beard, two-time Olympic gold medalist and U.S. team captain, unveils her nude poster for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at the Olympic village in Beijing on Aug. 6. Photo: Jewel Samad  AFP/Getty Images