Openly gay Olympic speed walker Tom Bosworth said coming out lifted a huge weight off his shoulders.
The English Olympian publicly came out as gay in 2015 and believes it dramatically improved his performance.
The 28-year-old told Gay Star News: ‘Since I came out, my performance has completely changed and that’s partly because I don’t have that worry at the back of my mind.’
Tom added: ‘It’s just gotten better and better every time I compete.’
And it’s true. According to a report entitled LGBT Diversity: Show Me The Business Case there is a greater than 25% productivity gain achieved when LGBTI workers feel able to be open.
Tom added: ‘I don’t have that pressure on my shoulders anymore.’
Tom admitted he was ‘very nervous’ about it all, but the ‘whole situation came together perfectly.’
He said: ‘As I spoke about it with media outlets and things like that, it dawned on me it was quite a big deal. People were very interested and I thought it was crazy.
‘Since coming out, it’s opened my eyes and made me realize how big a deal it is,’ he said.
‘Without a doubt, there’s still a stigma on athletes coming out as gay’
When asked what advice he would give to athletes struggling to come out, Tom Bosworth said: ‘It’s a difficult one.
‘Your life has to come first,’ he added. ‘Only do it if you’re comfortable and you’ve got a reason to do it.
‘If you just want to feel like you’ve got no other worries, then go for it,’ he said.
On the likes of openly gay athletes Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Tom said he’s not being following them closely but can see they’re making positive ripples with LGBTI representation.
Tom said: ‘They’re really leading the way for LGBTI people in sport.’
But Tom believes there’s still a huge stigma against athletes coming out as LGBTI in sport.
‘Without a doubt, there’s still a stigma on athletes coming out as gay,’ he said. ‘Massively.’
He added: ‘The things people are willing to shout as encouragement or abuse at opposing players, you wouldn’t do in the office space. Yet when it comes to sport, you say things you’d never really dream of.
‘And I think that just highlights the problem perfectly really,’ he said.
Commonwealth Games hopeful
Tom’s just spent five weeks training in South Africa for the upcoming Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia in April.
UK gas and electricity company npower sponsor Team England, to which Tom is a part of. He said: ‘Usually I represent Great Britain rather than England so that’s a nice change.’
He also very casually mentioned he ‘dusted off 600km’ worth of walking while in South Africa. His training regime is gruelling, to say the least.
Tom’s fully booked up over the months leading to the Commonwealth Games. He said: ‘I have a couple of indoor races coming up – the British Championships and then Glasgow International the following week.
‘And then the 20km before I go out to Australia,’ he said.
Last year was a whirlwind year for the Olympian. He smashed the world record for the one mile race at the Anniversary Games in July. But then got disqualified at the London 2017 World Championships a month later.
He described the former as a ‘pure shock and pure happiness’ and the latter as ‘absolute heartbreak’.
A racy romance
Tom proposed to his longterm partner Harry Dineley while at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. Tom actually bought the Tiffany ring from Heathrow Terminal 5 on the way to the Rio Games.
But they met five years before that at a small pub in York, England. While visiting a friend, Tom went to a local pub for a study break.
At the pub, he saw Harry, who was the best man of a stag party.
Tom explains what happened next: ‘Everyone in the stag party had consumed a lot of alcohol and were quite rowdy so we decided to escape them as we didn’t want to keep drinking in that pub.
‘Yet, later on, we just happened to end up in the same club. Our night didn’t end there and we exchanged numbers.
‘The rest is history,’ he said.
The pair just bought a house together and say they’re looking to plan the wedding before the next Summer Olympics.
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