Thomas Bosworth is a British two time Olympic race walker who holds three World bests including the World Best for the 1Mile race walk, 5:31.08. Since 2014 Tom has competed at every major championships from the Olympics, World and Europeans and captained the England Athletics team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. In 2015, Tom became the first openly gay track and field athlete and has since worked with charities such as Stonewall to help raise the awareness of LGBT equality in sport. He went on to famously propose to his fiancé Harry Dineley on the beach at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
You have achieved world breaking success as an athlete and you are openly gay; what does that mean to you?
Tom Bosworth: The success I’ve had is purely down to turning up each day, giving what I can and enjoying the process. I’ve gone from coming last in local races to representing my country at the Olympics and breaking records I didn’t know existed when I started. Living openly is just another part to who I am, but it does not define me as a person or an athlete, it is just another slice of the Tom pie!
You started to achieve success from 2016 onwards after you came out. You were out to friends and family but you openly came out, as Britain’s first track and field athlete in 2015; why then?
Tom Bosworth: I came out in 2015 because I was starting to establish myself as an athlete and I was content with who I am. I didn’t want to hide who I was dating on social media and wanted that freedom to thank my fiancé for all his hard work and commitment. I never quite realised why it was such a “big deal” for a sportsman to come out until I did and that makes me proud still to this day to have done it and perhaps give others a ray of light in a sporting environment that is still quite dated in terms of inclusion.
Apart from your sporting success has coming out changed any other aspects of your life; has it changed your personal or off track life (you thought it would not in your Victoria Derbyshire interview)?
Tom Bosworth: I am known a little bit within the LBGT community, and it’s given me opportunities to try and influence areas of sport to meet the standards of the rest of modern society. I take this responsibility with great importance and want to represent the LBGT community well.
You have been open in regards to your mental health and suicide attempt; what advice would you offer someone who finds themselves struggling with their mental health?
Tom Bosworth: What was key for me was highlighting the importance of the basics that makes me, me, but that is very hard to see when things are not going well or you are struggling with something. Speaking to someone you trust or who can help is incredibly daunting, however it is the first step down your potential journey to enjoy what is truly important and becoming happier in all walks of life.
There is a lack of openness in sports (men more than women); why do you think that is and what could help improve this?
Tom Bosworth: I go on about visibility a lot and that is what is lacking in mens sport. Within the last 12months there has been more high profile sports people coming out and this is what I believe will start to truly turn the tide.
Do you believe there’s been change in regards to openness in sport since you came out in 2015 compared to today in 2021?
Tom Bosworth: Yes, but it has moved slowly. To reinforce my previous answer, I believe we are on the brink of sport starting to reach much better levels of inclusion where it will become more organic rather than forced media inclusion or public “coming outs”.