Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard speaks to an audience of students and locals in Mississippi University for Women’s Cochran Hall on Thursday. Beard, 32, competed in four Olympics for the United States. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
March 28, 2014 11:01:08 AM
For Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard, a change in attitude changed the path of her life.
Beard, a 32-year-old four-time Olympian who won seven medals, spoke at Mississippi University for Women Thursday night. Beard told students and others in Cochran Hall that changing her attitude from negative to positive made the difference in qualifying for her second Olympics in 2000.
Telling the story of her eight-day Olympic trial, Beard said she felt defeated before she even got in the water. It had been four years since she won her first Olympic medal at 14 years old. In that time, she had grown six inches and gained more than 30 pounds. On her first attempt to secure her spot at the second Olympics, Beard came in last place.
"I lost before I even gave myself the opportunity to try," she said. "All of it was how I approached it. The first time I approached it, I should have never even bothered because I had already talked myself out of it."
After a pep talk from her family, Beard said she realized she was no longer having fun in the sport that she loved. By allowing herself to worry about her competition, she lost her passion and her focus, she said. For her second attempt to secure a place on the Olympic team, Beard said she changed her mindset and the way she approached the day's event.
"The second time, I allowed myself to be there in the moment and I allowed myself to dive into that pool and do something great and amazing," she said. "I didn't talk myself out of it."
Moments before she dove into the water, Beard told herself, "There's no reason I can't win this. There's no reason I can't make another Olympic team."
When she emerged from the water, she realized she had done it. She came in second and secured a spot for her second Olympics. From that moment on, Beard said her entire outlook changed.
"It was a complete turnaround in my attitude adjustment," she said. "It literally changed everything that I did from then on. I never talked myself out of something before I gave myself the opportunity to be great at it. Why would I do that to myself?"
Talking to the young people in the crowd, Beard encouraged them to embrace their potential. When they don't Beard said, "You're denying yourself your full potential and doing great things in this world. And you owe that to yourself. It's not just sports. Why would you ever sell yourself short? Why would you not give yourself the opportunity to do something amazing?"
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.