Mark Foster praises Adam Peaty for 'opening up' about mental health

2 August 2021, 19:34

By Seán Hickey

The former Olympic swimmer commended Peaty for being 'vulnerable' and raising awareness for mental health.

Team GB's double gold winner in the Tokyo pool took to social media to hit back at people criticising him for taking time off to preserve his mental wellbeing.

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"I'm surprised he said mental health here and wanting to protect it" Andrew Castle told his former Team GB teammate Mark Foster, who competed for the UK in swimming in Beijing most recently.

"The way I interpreted it was that he wanted some time off to spend with his child, with his dad," the former swimmer told Andrew.

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He wondered whether that was the true context behind Peaty announcing a long time off, and that he just wants to "mentally and physically" recharge.

"I look back at the intensity of international sport," Andrew reflected, having been a tennis player at the highest level himself.

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"I think we'd have all been screaming about poor mental health if unhappiness or being, sort of, a bit stale was the only qualification for it."

Mark Foster acknowledged the point, and that while athletes are more open today, mental struggles are nothing new.

"I've heard of many people over the years, obviously after major championships, struggling with coming back home from the huge high of being at an event and then the 'what now? What defines me? What next?"

He took the example of Simone Biles, who has had "a hell of a couple of years" inside and outside of sport and should be praised for standing firm.

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"It's one of those things that I like the fact that people are being more vulnerable and saying what's going on, I think that's a good thing," Mr Foster admitted.

He concluded by telling Andrew that without a doubt Adam Peaty "needs a break, of course he does.

"I think he's had a hell of a year. He'll come back, he'll reset, Paris is only a couple of years away."