Mark Foster has come out as gay.

The former Team GB swimmer, who set eight world records during his lengthy career, managed to keep his sexuality secret for more than three decades.

In an interview with Winq Magazine, out in-full on Thursday December 6th, the BBC presenter reveals that he felt as though it was finally time to live his life more “authentically.”

He explains: “It always seemed to me that I had this secret undercurrent that was my secret life. So what I showed people on the surface was Mark the swimmer, Mark the bloke, and beneath the surface was this other story. And so now I want to be a bit more authentic”

Mark Foster, shot by Leigh Keily for the Winter issue of Winq magazine

The sportsman reveals that during his career, he didn’t want his sexuality to be the focus in the media, and so by keeping it to himself he hoped he would be remembered for his achievements rather than the goings on in his love life.

“When I was on the team I was Mark the Swimmer, I didn’t want [my sexuality] to get in the way of that. I stood on the block and it’s like, right, you’ve got to be a pillar here, and I think I just got used to not showing my competitors any weakness.”

But Mark also went on to insist that he was never “in a dark place” when it came to his personal life, because he’d always been open and honest with his friends and family about his sexuality.

He told The Guardian: “I wasn’t like Gareth Thomas. I was never in that dark place. I’ve lived an openly gay life to my friends and family. But I always hid it as a swimmer.”

Read the full story behind Mark’s emotional coming out story, where he talks in-depth about how he coped with spending his life in the closet, in the first magazine interview exclusively in Winq magazine, published December 6th.