TONBRIDGE athlete Tom Bosworth has told his fiance and family not to attend the World Championships in Qatar next year because of the country’s anti-gay laws.
But he vows to stand up for LGBT rights at the sport’s showpiece, saying ‘I want those opportunities for everybody’.
The openly gay race walker, who broke the world record in the 3,000m in the Anniversary Games in London, is one of Team GB’s leading medal prospects in Doha.
He also won silver in the 20km race walk at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast of Australia earlier this year, when he was team captain.
The 28-year-old was widely praised for promoting gay athletes across all sports when he proposed to his boyfriend Harry Dineley on the beach during the Rio Olympics in 2016.
But the Middle-Eastern country, which is also hosting the next World Cup in 2022, imprisons gay men for up to three years and clamps down on campaigns for equal rights.
In an interview with The Independent, Bosworth said: ‘I’ve told my fiance, don’t even consider coming [to Qatar]. I don’t want you or my family to come. I’m going there to do a job and compete but I want to do that safely, happily and I want those opportunities for everybody.
‘There’s many questions as to why this championship’s ended up where it has, I think the athletes and perhaps even the sport has been forgotten.
‘Obviously, Qatar wants to make a statement. They’ve got the football World Cup (in 2022) as well. If it’s about money, there’s other options.’
Bosworth, who already holds the world record for the one-mile race walk, recorded a time of 10min 43.84 sec to set a new 3,000m benchmark at the London Stadium.
‘That’s a big, big confidence boost because we used the indoor season to boost me for Gold Coast and I came home with a silver medal there. We’re trying to replicate that a little bit and these shorter races get the legs going.’
It was his first race in the UK capital since his disqualification from the World Championships 20km race walk last summer because his walking technique was said to be against rules.
He said: ‘It was heartbreak, to be honest, last year. It broke me, it took me a long time to get over that. It will always be in the back of my mind but I’d be a fool if I were to ignore that.
‘The Commonwealth Games took that pressure off and put that to bed, and now I can go out and perform and really enjoy what I do again.’
The Tonbridge Athletic Club member will be competing in the 20km race walk at the European Championships, which will be held in Berlin from next week.
PICTURE: OLYMPIC RING: Tom Bosworth proposed toHarry Dineley in Rio during the 2016 Olympics