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Tom Bosworth: Team GB race walker opens up on sexuality and mental health

"People inside and outside of athletics say 'because of your story, it gave me the confidence to come out'," Bosworth tells Sky Sports News

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Tom Bosworth tells Sky Sports News how the pressure of success became too much, following his disappointment at the 2017 World Athletics Championships

Olympic race walker Tom Bosworth says it is disappointing that he is Britain's only out gay male track and field athlete, five years after coming out publicly, reports SSN's Rebecca Williams.

Bosworth, 30, proposed to his partner Harry on Copacabana beach during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, a photograph of which - showing him down on one knee - went viral on social media.

Speaking about his sexuality, he told Sky Sports News that although he is "still the only one" to have come out publicly, he is happy to have inspired others to come out privately to their family and friends.

He said: "What has been really nice is that people who are inside of athletics and outside of athletics have been coming up to me to say 'because of your story, it gave me the confidence to come out to my family or my friends'.

"That really means a lot because not everybody has to come out publicly.

Tom Bosworth
Image: Bosworth set a new British record in the 5000m race walk at the British Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow in February

"It was something I wanted to do to protect myself. Everyone wants to know everything about their Olympians in Olympic year, so I wanted to put it out there so that I could just enjoy my time with my now fiance.

"But I appreciate that not everyone wants to do that. Sport is still a long way behind society but hopefully when there are more people like me, less people talk about people like me I guess."

Also See:

IAAF World Athletics Championships 2019 - Day Eight - Khalifa International Stadium
Great Britain's Tom Bosworth (centre), Ireland's Alex Wright (left) and Guatemala's Erick Bernabe Barrondo during the 20 Kilometres Race Walk Men's Final during day eight of the IAAF World Championships at The Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar. 4 October 2019
Image: A Tokyo 2020 medal contender, Bosworth finished seventh in the 20km race walk at the World Championships in Doha last October

World records and mental health

As a race walker, Bosworth covers half a marathon every single day as part of his rigorous training regime. He holds the world record for the one-mile race walk, won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, and came sixth in the 20km race at Rio.

But it was after being disqualified at the World Athletics Championships in London in 2017 that his mental health was affected. Bosworth felt he put too much pressure on himself and later became seriously depressed, even attempting to take his own life on more than one occasion.

Britain's Tom Bosworth reacts after being disqualified in the men's 20km race walk athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships on The Mall in central London on August 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Bosworth was disqualified from the race walk event in London three years ago after receiving three red cards for technique infractions

He said: "I had isolated myself and it did feel like there was no way out. It felt like everything that I had worked hard for in my career, as well as everything me and Harry had worked together to build in our life, I was throwing it all away.

"I wasn't happy with training, competing, with life... I realised I wasn't who I wanted to be. At that point, I realised how badly I had been treating my family and more importantly, I realised how badly I was treating Harry.

Thinking back now, it really takes complete control over your head and over your mind.
Tom Bosworth on depression

"The only out was to try and take my own life. On maybe the second or third attempt, Harry had said 'enough is enough, I can't sit by you and stay with you.'

"It made me realise, standing on the bridge that night, I didn't know who that person was when I was stood there. Thinking back now, it really takes complete control over your head and over your mind."

While Bosworth is continuing with his training, there is concern that the Tokyo Olympics could be postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, although organisers still insist it will go ahead as planned this summer.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 23: A detail image of Tom Bosworth's tattoo as he celebrates winning the Men's 5000m Race Walk and setting a new British record on day two of the SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships at Emirates Arena on February 23, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Image: Proud Olympian Bosworth is hoping the IOC can provide support to all its prospective Tokyo 2020 athletes during the pandemic

Bosworth hopes the International Olympic Committee will make changes and modifications to allow teams and athletes to compete and qualify, and also hopes the Games can be a celebration to unite the world once the threat of the disease has diminished.

Watch Tom's full interview with Sky Sports News' Rebecca Williams in the video above.

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