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Mark won 47 international freestyle and butterfly titles including six world titles and eleven European. He also set eight world records and competed at five Olympics before honing his punditry skills for the BBC and taking to the Strictly dancefloor. As well as lessons in preparation and focus, he has more recently opened up about his sexuality and how his reluctance to be open about being gay with colleagues and coaches may have impacted on his professional performance and general wellbeing.
One of the UK’s most successful swimmers, Mark Foster is a six time world champion, eleven time European champion and set eight world records, including holding the 50m record in both freestyle and butterfly at the same time.
Mark’s career started as a teenager instructed by his mother and he became the faster swimmer in the UK by the age of 15 when he was first selected for the British team. Five years later he claimed his first international individual medal, bronze in the Commonwealth games and started to claim world records over the following years.
Despite his success in European and World competitions, Olympic success eluded Mark. Following disagreement with the team management, Mark was not selected for the 2004 Games and he retired from competition two years later. He returned from retirement a year later, however, stating he still wanted an Olympic medal. He claimed silver in the world championships, and qualified for the Olympic team, his fifth appearance at the Games. He was the flag-bearer for the team at the opening ceremony of the Athens Games, but success in the pool didn’t follow as he narrowly failed to qualify for the 50m freestyle semi-finals.
Since retiring for the second time, Mark has become a regular on television both pool-side and away from sport. He has competed in Who Wants to be a Millionaire, The Weakest Link, and Strictly Come Dancing. Mark’s pundit role during the London 2012 Games provided an award-winning partnership with Clare Balding, and he continues to play a key role in the BBC’s Olympics, Commonwealth and World Championships coverage team.
As well as inspiring teams and individuals with his experiences from elite sport, Mark has also reflected on the role his personal life has played in his professional performance. Despite the dedication, sacrifice and achievement in the pool, it was only recently that he openly spoke about his sexuality and considered how his reluctance to be open about being gay with colleagues and coaches may have impacted on his professional performance and general wellbeing.
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