What is it like to compete at the Olympic Games?
There’s nothing else like it. It’s an amazing feeling to compete in the biggest sporting show on earth and I’ve been to five of them. One of my proudest moments was being chosen to hold the flag for Team GB at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games.
What have you learnt from the experience?
I’ve learnt so much from the Olympics, including the importance of teamwork and that you should always reach for the stars – the Olympics were the stars for me. I didn’t win that gold medal but, en route, I managed to win two Commonwealth Games, 10 European Championships and broke eight world records. If I hadn’t reached for the stars in the first place, I may never have got off the ground.
Is another return for a home Games too good an opportunity to pass up?
Never say never. It’s every athlete’s dream to compete in their home Olympics but I also have to listen to my body.
Was it easy to refocus after your last return from retirement?
Yes it was because I had such a clear goal – I wanted to win a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. Whether you are just starting out or at the top of your game, everyone needs goals to motivate themselves. You need to start with small steps, so that you don’t get disheartened, but it’s also a great way to monitor your progress.
Why do you think goal setting is so important?
Setting clear goals is important, as is attention to detail. If it’s an exercise goal that you’re aiming for, it’s great to sign up to a mass participation event like a 10km run or a triathlon. It will give you something to train for and you might meet a whole new group of friends while you’re doing it. In general, you need to make sure that you have a good team around you and always do the best that you can. If you can look in the mirror and know that you have done your best, then you are a winner, whatever the result.
What do you think is the key to a healthy lifestyle?
I think it’s important for people to find an activity that they like. You won’t stick at anything if you hate it. I had never danced before Strictly Come Dancing and I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I loved it and I’m still dancing now.
Why is swimming such a great way to stay active?
Swimming is great, whether you want to lose weight, tone up, get fitter or just enjoy the water. I’ve been involved in a great scheme called swimfit, which is a gym programme for the pool. It is an online tool where you can download specific programmes to help you work towards your goals.
Name: Mark Foster
Birthplace: Southend, Essex
Events: 50m freestyle and butterfly
Achievements: 47 international medals including six times World Champion
Mark Foster will be appearing at FitPro Spring Convention 2011. For more information visit fitpro.com/convention11
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Fitness Professionals Ltd or Virtual Magazine. Consult a qualified health or fitness professional before making changes to your diet or exercise.