Champion Beard fails to make semi-finals
Thursday, 14 August 2008

BEIJING, Aug 13 ( - Athens Olympic 200 metre breaststroke champion Amanda Beard failed to make it to the semi-finals in Beijing on Wednesday, finishing 18th in qualifying.

The 26-year-old American stormed past reporters without speaking after finishing sixth in her heat.

Another American, Rebecca Soni posted the fastest time in the heats with two minutes, 22.17.

Australia's Leisel Jones, the world champion and world record holder who won in 100 metres on Tuesday, was second quickest followed by Austrian Mirna Jukic and Norway's Sara Nordenstam.

Beard won a gold medal as a 14-year-old in the 4x100 medley relay in Atlanta in 1996 and famously hugged her teddy bear during the medal ceremony. She also won two breaststroke silvers at the 1996 Games.

Beard then won a bronze in the 200 breaststroke in Sydney and claimed gold in Athens four years ago.

Britain's Kirsty Balfour, silver medallist in the world championships last year, also failed to make the semi-finals after finishing 20th, over five seconds behind Soni's time.

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