Melbourne, Aug 3 : Glamour swimmer Stephanie Rice has become the latest cover girl for FHM men's magazine, sporting stockings and stilettos in a steamy shoot that is sure to have tongues wagging.
The medley world record holder seems to be heading towards the same track that caused havoc for Australian runner Tamsyn Lewis prior to the Athens Games.
Lewis was caught up in a war of words with Jana Rawlinson, when the hurdler labelled Lewis a 'bikini babe'.
According to experts, Rice's steamy shoot so close to the Beijing Games is a risk that will place increased pressure on her to perform while former triathlon champion Nici Andronicus believes it will also make her a target.
"It's not a distraction (to Rice) but it's a distraction to the other competitors because it puts a giant cross on your shoulders, and they will do everything they can to bring you down,'' the Daily Telegraph quoted Andronicus, who was a regular swimsuit cover girl during her career, as saying.
Brand managers and strategists say that the raunchy images will only cause harm to the 19-year-old's wholesome image with media buyer Harold Mitchell adding that the photos should be a one-off on Rice's part.
Media strategist Barry O'Brien believes Rice's family could find themselves under pressure as a result of the raunchy shoot, yet dismissed concerns it would ruin her career.
"It can backfire, but I don't think it's going to neck her career. She's a great talent and, if she wins a gold medal, they'll be lining up 10 deep,'' he said.