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Former World Champion Swimmer Mark Foster Publicly Comes Out As Gay

“I tiptoed around the issue for so long,” Mark Foster told The Guardian’s Donald McRae.

Not anymore.

The one-time world champion swimmer has publicly come out as gay in a new interview with The Guardian, published Monday morning.

Forty-seven-year-old Foster, who competed in five Olympic games and set eight world records as a freestyle and butterfly sprinter, has been living as a gay man in private for the past few decades, having been in at least two long term relationships prior to Monday’s announcement. But he always got “nervous” whenever he thought about letting the public into this part of his personal life.

“I got really good at the dance of telling half-truths,” Foster told McRae. “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. 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.”

The article also reveals how frequently the British press has toyed with the idea of outing Foster. The Daily Mail, the Sun, and the News of the World have all, at various times, “stalked” the man in some capacity, hoping to break the story without his consent. Although “nervous,” he seems happy to have publicly come out on his own terms.

“I’ve been tiptoeing in the shadows but now’s the time to come out,” he told McCrae.