Former British Olympic swimmer and world champion Mark Foster has officially come out to the public in a recent interview.
Speaking with The Guardian, the athlete, who competed predominantly in butterfly and freestyle says, “I’ve just swerved and swerved. Telling half-truths and not being my true self is only hurting me.”
“I’m 47, a middle-aged man, and I’m no longer competing. And I’m not the first gay sportsman to come out. Gareth Thomas and Tom Daley led the way.”
Foster who explained that while he had lived as openly gay to his friends and family, with two long-term relationships, he had continued to hide his true sexuality in public.
“I tiptoed around the issue for so long. I got really good at the dance of telling half-truths,” Foster said. “At the Sochi Olympics [in 2014] I did a piece for Huffington Post. I was shocked by the treatment of gay people in Russia and needed to say something – without revealing anything about myself. So I half-said something. It’s always been half-truths in public.”
“At the Sochi Olympics in 2014, I did a piece for Huffington Post. I was shocked by the treatment of gay people in Russia and needed to say something, without revealing anything about myself. So I half-said something. It’s always been half-truths in public.”
Admitting a fear of coming out with concerns that it may have affected his swimming career and his livelihood, Foster says, “I was worried about how coming out might affect my work.”
“My swim schools cater for children and there’s this insidious perception that gay equals paedophile/child molester. I never want to be perceived as being a threat to children.”
During his swimming career, Foster won six World Championship titles, two Commonwealth titles and eleven European titles however never tasted Olympic glory, admitting that, in hindsight, being in the closet may have done more harm for his career.
“When you’ve spent your whole life shying away from scrutiny it must have some impact, I’ve lost races and broken world records by 100ths of seconds. I’m not saying I would’ve won the Olympics but, if I wasn’t subconsciously processing all this stuff, I would have achieved more.”