|Venue: Manchester Regional Arena Dates: 4-5 September|
|Coverage: Live on BBC Two (Friday) and BBC One (Saturday)|
Racewalker Tom Bosworth, the only openly gay man on the British athletics team, says that online abuse will “grow and grow” unless it is called out.
“The messages that I have received over the past half decade have been so extreme. They really just want to be nasty,” he told BBC Sport.
“It is going to grow and grow unless it is talked about constantly.”
Several Premier League footballers have recently revealed the racial abuse that they receive via social media platforms, with police arresting a 12-year-old in relation to messages sent to Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.
“Being behind a screen gives people the confidence to air these things – they say things that they would never dream of saying [offline] because they really just want to hurt people,” Bosworth added.
“It is naive to think that these things are going to go away, there are still going to be plenty of people out there with absolutely barmy views.”
Bosworth came out in 2015 and proposed to his partner at the Rio Olympics a year later. He says that his experiences since and the sport’s reaction to recent worldwide protests for racial justice have shown athletics’ progressive ethos.
“I really think that athletics leads the way with this sort of thing. It is such an open and welcoming family and so diverse. After events in America I had no doubt that it would do something that was more than just jumping on the bandwagon,” he added.
British Athletics has recently expanded the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion group it launched back in 2018, while Bosworth is part of the organisation’s Athletics Pride Network.
‘I had never felt so fit and it was all ripped away’
Bosworth, who set new British records at 5,000m and 10,000m earlier this year, was left in tears by March’s news of the Tokyo Olympics’ postponement until 2021.
“To say I was disappointed would be the understatement of century,” he said.
“I was in the shape of my life, had never felt so fit and it was all ripped away.
“I have finished in the top eight at every major championship and it felt I had taken another step forward. Maybe it was that final step to get on the podium.”
Bosworth, who spent time gardening and learning sign language during lockdown, will return to competition at September’s British Championships in Manchester.
“They’ll give me the excitement and motivation to get back going,” he added.