Mark Foster gives us the lowdown on the swimming hopefuls representing our home nations at the Commonwwealth Games, which starts today…
Swimmer Mark Foster knows what it’s like to bring home a medal haul at the Commonwealth Games, having represented England an incredible six times between 1986 and 2006, winning a total of eight including two golds. Now Mark is part of the BBC commentary team alongside Rebecca Adlington and Clare Balding and he’s looking forward to all pool action from Australia’s Gold Coast, which could see England’s Adam Peaty break some new records and bring home a few more golds.
TV & Satellite Week caught up with Mark Foster to talk about Adam Peaty and who else has medal chances for the British nations at the Commonwealth Games…
TV & Satellite Week: What excitement can we expect from the Gold Coast?
Mark Foster: “Swimming is as massive as football is here over in Australia, so they will certainly fill the stands and create a huge atmosphere. The Australians love beating the Brits, too, but they won’t have it all their own way!”
TV & Satellite Week: There are high hopes for Adam Peaty again in the 100m Breaststroke. Can anyone beat him?
Mark Foster: “I suppose there’s South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh, but I think as long as Adam Peaty gets on the block even half fit then he’ll still win by a margin because he’s just that much better than everybody else. He’s like swimming’s answer to Usain Bolt when he was at his best!”
TV & Satellite Week: Adam wants to break the 57-second second mark in the 100m Breaststroke and set another world record. Do you think he could do it at these games?
Mark Foster:” Yeah, I think he could do it any time he gets on the block! For him his motivation comes with chasing world records. But it’s an outdoor pool at the Gold Coast and an indoor pool is probably a better environment, but then I’d never put anything past Adam!”
TV & Satellite Week: What races are you personally looking forward to most?
Mark Foster: “Well there are lots, but I’d like to see what Duncan Scott, who’s swimming for Scotland, can do up against the Australians in the 100m and 200m freestyle. I’ve also picked England’s James Guy to do well in the 200m butterfly at the Olympics in Tokyo, so I want to see how he gets on against South Africa’s Chad le Clos, who’s a real showman. Australia and South Africa have been dominating the sprint freestyle event but England’s Ben Proud is awesome, so he could potentially come away with two golds!”
TV & Satellite Week: What about the women swimmers? Do any of them stand a chance of a medal?
Mark Foster: “England’s Siobhan-Marie O’Connor had a phenomenal year at the Olympics two years ago in the 200 Individual Medley, getting a Silver, but she’s had some health problems so for her it’s about staying fit and healthy. Then there’s Jazz Carlin, who’s going for Wales in the fdistance freestyle events, and Scotland’s Hannah Miley at the 400m Individual Medley – I want to see Hannah win something.”
TV & Satellite Week: Adam Peaty was the break-out star of the last Commonwealth Games. Is there anyone we should be looking out for this time?
Mark Foster: “There’s a young freestyle swimmer called Freya Anderson, who was at the World Championships last year and did really well. She’s only 17, but she’s got all the right attributes, although admittedly she’ll be up against Australia’s Campbell sisters!”
TV & Satellite Week: For some of those younger swimmers it will be their first games. What can they expect?
Mark Foster: “When I first made the Commonwealth Games at 15, I was the baby of the team, but it’s infectious. This will give a lot of people the opportunity to get on the block and surround themselves with some of the world’s best athletes, which could be the motivation they need!”
TV & Satellite Week: They’re a knowledgeble crowd in Australia aren’t they?
Mark Foster: “Yes very! I remember one of the first times I competed in Australia, I remember walking down the street and people saying my name, Australians, I was like hang on, I’m not known in the UK and you lot know my name. That was kind of weird.”
TV & Satellite Week: Is there any difference with the Olympics? We presume there’s less pressure in the Commonwealth Games…
Mark Foster: “Yeah I always call it the friendly games, which sounds weird because when you’re on the block you want to kick their arse. Everyone speaks in the same language, Brits, Aussies, Canadians we all know one another. I suppose the thing is because you communicate in the same language we spend more time… we talk to one another. I know before the race all you can think about is kicking everyone else’s arses but there’s a mutual respect you have for one another.”
* The Commonwealth Games starts today, with events on BBC1, BBC2 and the BBC Red Button
Pic: PA Wire/PA Images and BBC