July 30th, 2012
10:37 AM ET
Olympian Amanda Beard was just 14 when she won her first gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games. Since then, Beard's become a four-time Olympian with a total of seven Olympic medals, and has been a model, motivational speaker, author, blogger, and also a mom.
Yet while she credits a big part of her success to getting in the pool at an early age - Beard started swimming when she was 4 - she doesn't think that should discourage those who are holding on to Olympic-sized dreams later in life.
"Starting at such a young age for myself has created who I am today as an athlete, but I also know a lot of people that didn't really start swimming until high school and even college and are Olympic athletes,” Beard said in a recent CNN interview. “Maybe you have the hidden talent inside of you that you're an Olympic swimmer and you never knew it."
In her recent book, “In the Water They Can’t See You Cry,” Beard chronicles her journey of success while also dealing with bouts of depression. “I was a young athlete who wanted to come home from the Olympics, go back to high school and forget that the Olympics ever happened” she said, but it was never easy for her to fit in.
After coming out of her battles a stronger person, Beard wanted to impart the message to everyone that you’re never alone in your struggles.
“I think we all put pressures and expectations on ourselves, whether or not you're an athlete, whether it's in school or jobs or relationships," she said. "But there is a point where you need to live a healthy lifestyle and do stuff that's not going to be harming you or harming anyone around you."
A big thank you to Beard for participating, and to all of our iReporters for submitting questions. Coming soon will be our interview with Jennifer Grey. Head to our iReport interview page to see which celebrities we’re talking to next, and to send in your questions!
About this blog
Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.