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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 04:38 GMT 05:38 UK
Foster makes point to Sweetenham
By Andrew Fraser

Mark Foster celebrates his 50m freestyle victory at the World Short Course Championships in Indianapolis
Mark Foster believes his World Short Course Championships success has proved British swimming chief Bill Sweetenham should have taken him to the Olympics.

Foster, who won a gold and a silver, was denied a wildcard for Athens after failing to make the qualifying time at the British trials in April.

"I've let my actions speak for me. I could be bitter, but what's the point? I love representing my country.

"I don't do this for Bill Sweetenham, I do this for me," Foster told BBC Sport.

"I am happy getting on and doing my own thing. If you let me do my own thing I get the results.

"I've stood up at short course world championships 10 times and not failed to medal."

Foster, 34, failed to make it to his fifth Olympics when he finished first in the 50m freestyle at the British trials but was 0.05 seconds outside the qualifying mark.

He said a shoulder injury had stopped him going faster but was forced to watch the Games on television after a last-ditch appeal was unsuccessful.

The University of Bath swimmer bounced back by winning the 50m freestyle and taking 50m butterfly silver in Indianapolis, but admits his absence in Athens still rankles.

For someone not to take it upon themselves to say 'we need Mark there' is an error of management
Mark Foster
"It's been a long summer not going to the Games, but at least after these championships I have put the record straight," he said.

"I can't say I would have won at the Olympics but everyone's always known I was in with a shout so it was disappointing I didn't get the chance to do it.

"There will always be that little niggle in the back of your mind saying what might have been.

"But you can't live your life like that so I've put it behind me and come up trumps."

Foster believes the decision to hold just one Olympic trial in April meant Britain's swimmers peaked too early, with the team going on to win two bronze medals in Athens.

He expects Sweetenham to revert to a two-trial system in the future, and insists GB's top swimmers should be given more leeway.

"We did so well for the three years before and at the Olympics we didn't. Things went drastically wrong," said Foster, won a world long course silver in 2003.

"I had an injury five weeks before the trials and for someone not to take it upon themself to say 'we need Mark there' is an error of management as far as I'm concerned.

"We had six world medallists from last year. You should look after those and say 'you're going to the Olympics next year, so you can get on and prepare for the big one'.

"That to me is a no-brainer - it's common sense."


Foster insists he has no retirement plans, and admits the decision to hold the World Short Course Championships in Manchester in 2008 could prolong his career.

"My short-term aim is the Commonwealth Games and then I may look at the worlds in Manchester," he said.

"I would love to finish in Britain in front of a home crowd but I want to go out on a high.

"It's three and a half years off, so we will see. I might have to go [to Beijing] and get my fifth Olympics. It could have been six, but it might just be five now!

"People in sport are getting older these days and I'm still swimming as quick as I ever have.

"This year has been the best, consistently, that I've ever had so I must be doing something right."

Foster strikes 50m gold
10 Oct 04  |  Other Sport
GB duo clinch world silvers
09 Oct 04  |  Other Sport
Foster appeal fails
30 May 04  |  Other Sport

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