Foster Is Planning Olympic Return; ON TRIAL: Foster Is Confident to Make Qualifying Times Next Month

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), February 17, 2008 | Go to article overview

Foster Is Planning Olympic Return; ON TRIAL: Foster Is Confident to Make Qualifying Times Next Month


Byline: Ian Stafford

SWIMMER Mark Foster, Britain's most successful major championship medalwinner, revealed last night that he wants to come out of internationalretirement and compete in this summer's Olympic Games.

Foster, who will be 38 if he makes it to Beijing, has been Britain's highestprofile swimmer for the past decade because of his many successes and hisrun-ins with the sport's authorities. .

The former world record holder at 50 metres freestyle has won a staggering 46major championship medals and competed in four Olympics, starting in Seoul,1988.

But he has never won an Olympic medal and was omitted in controversialcircumstances from the British team for the 2004 Athens Games by the thennational team director Bill Sweetenham.

Foster, who took silver in the World Long Course 50m final in 2003, swam wellinside the Olympic qualifying time at the following year's British trials, butwas seven-hundredths of a second outside the time Sweetenham had set for theevent. Amid much acrimony, he was not selected for Athens.

Foster made his contempt for Sweetenham's methods public and announced hisofficial retirement from international competition after the 2006 CommonwealthGames in Melbourne.

But, two years on, he has had a change of heart. Encouraged by his time of22.36secthe fifthfastest of the yearin the national championships last July, he is also enjoying a far betterrelationship with Sweetenham's replacement, Mike Scott.

Now he hopes to impress in the British Olympic trials, which start in Sheffieldon March 31, and the World Short Course Championships in Manchester from April9.

'I was going to use the British trials as nothing more than preparation for theWorld Short Course championships,' said Foster, from his home in Miami. 'ButI'm not stupid. If I do as well as I think

I'm going to do, then there's no reason why I shouldn't give the Olympics onelast crack.

'I know I have retired from competing for Britain, but I'll definitely come outof retirement if selected for the Games. …

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