Beard recounts personal torment in revealing book
By Julian Linden
NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Amanda Beard climbed the podium at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, clutching her teddy bear as she collected her first gold medal, no one could see the torment that was starting to brew inside of her.
Whenever she smiled, cameras clicked and crowds roared with approval. She was just 14 at the time and apparently living the ultimate American dream.
Or so it seemed. The medals, the cheesy grin, even the bear, were all just a mask for the demons she was battling.
Privately, her life was starting to unravel. Her parents had just divorced and she did not know how to cope.
Beard celebrated her Atlanta success by drinking alcohol for the first time. In the years that followed, she began abusing harder drugs, including ecstasy, cocaine and LSD.
She 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 who once posed for Playboy - she battled bulimia.
Beard continued to be successful in the pool, breaking world records and adding to her stockpile of medals but 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. Continued...