Brighton and Hove Triathlon returns this year to Hove Lawns for the fourth time – dedicated as always to celebrating inclusivity in sport.
THIS year also sees the return of elite level athlete Mark Edmonds, who at the age of 49 is returning to the sport of Triathlon after 13 years. Mark has competed in over 250 triathlons over the years and is a 3 x Triathlon Gold Medallist at the Gay Games.
At the age of 16 Mark was a member of Team GB before progressing up the ranks and remaining as part of the team until he was 28. Throughout those 12 years of competing, Mark was too scared to admit he was gay.
Mark said: “Like many other boys my age, I was very scared in admitting to others I was gay for fear of being ridiculed or bullied. I didn’t have anyone close to me that I felt I could confide in. So I chose to put all my feelings and emotions in a box (figuratively) with an aim to deal with them later.
As a result of these insecurities and worries I became very shy in general. I didn’t want to arouse suspicion about me in general, so I withdrew from pretty much any social activity from 11 years old onwards. I poured all my energies into the triathlon training instead.
“When I got included in the Team GB set up, they were all faster than me and were much more well- rounded with life experience too. To be honest, I think had I been brave enough to come out to them at the time, I’m sure they would have accepted me fully.”
Mark continued: “After dealing with 12 years of being side-lined from competing due to various injuries that had effectively ended my sporting career, I really struggled emotionally and didn’t know what to do with my life. I adapted and found other pathways in life… but I always felt a big part of me had been taken away.
“I am so happy to be able to finally run again. Once it looked like all systems were go I decided to look for a late season triathlon. Brighton was the obvious candidate. It was perfect time of year. I had been an ambassador to support the LGBT+ aspect of the race for the previous two years and because I knew the race organiser, John Lunt, well, I knew it would be very well organised.
“Time has moved on and people’s perceptions of gay men/women has definitely moved on too. I must say when I train and race, I do not think of myself as a ‘gay’ triathlete though. I see myself foremost as an athlete who happens to be gay. I believe triathlon has many gay athletes racing. Some are open and out, many are not. It doesn’t matter either way. Triathlon is a sexy sport with many sexy fit bodies, tight fitting Lycra and rubber (wetsuits), so to that fact it’s actually a very gay friendly sport.
“It’s great the Brighton will be so welcoming to the LGBT+ athletes and I’m really excited to be competing there.”
Race Director John Lunt said: “We look forward to seeing Mark Edmonds returning to our sport after a 13 year lay-off. Mark is a great role model for the LGBT+ communities and we are honoured Mark has chosen Brighton as his comeback race. Brighton and Hove Triathlon is committed to making sport inclusive. We need to show that sport can be everyone’s game.”