British Olympic swimmer Mark Foster has come out as gay at 47 years old.
The six-time world champion and BBC sports commentator has revealed his sexuality after decades in the public eye.
He said he was tired of telling ‘half-truths in public’ despite the full support of friends and family.
Mark Foster: ‘Telling half-truths…only hurt me.’
‘It’s not like I’ve been pushed to come out. I’ve just swerved and swerved. Telling half-truths and not being my true self is only hurting me,’ he told The Guardian.
‘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 added: ‘I tiptoed around the issue for so long. I got really good at the dance of telling half-truths. I’ve supported the Terence Higgins Trust, Stonewall, Ben Cohen’s Stand Up to Bullying campaign. But I’ve always done it under the radar.
Did staying closeted hurt his career?
Foster says he believes he would have achieved more if he had come out before.
He said he had a conversation with an Australian swimmer, who said he had been ‘afraid of the spotlight’.
‘I don’t know if that’s true but when you’ve spent your whole life shying away from scrutiny it must have some impact,’ Foster said.
‘I’ve lost races and broken world records by hundredths 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.’
Foster is in a relationship, but did not reveal the name of his other half.