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Marc Woods

Former International Swimmer and Multiple Gold Medallist

Marc had his left leg amputated because of cancer when he was seventeen. The day after he had his stitches out he went swimming and within a year he was swimming quicker with one leg then he did when he had two. His dream was to simply be the best that he could be and just 18 months after he finished his chemotherapy he was selected to represent Great Britain.

He has now retired from swimming having competed internationally for 17 years, winning 12 Paralympic medals from 5 Games and a further 21 from either World or European Championships.

In the past he has held world records for 200m, 400m, 1500m Freestyle and as well as being part of the team that held the world record for 4 x 100m Freestyle.

Marc is known for his inspiring story which is delivered in a self deprecating, humorous and moving manner.

Using superb BBC archive footage from Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Marc details his experiences and the lessons he learnt on the way to winning a Gold medal in Sydney and Athens.

Marc’s speech takes you on an inspirational journey – giving insights into leadership, teamwork and motivation. It is a journey that took him from cancer patient to multiple Gold medalist.

1988 Paralympics - Seoul 1999 European Championships - Braunschweig
Gold - 4 x 100m Freestyle relay
Silver - 100m Freestyle
Bronze - 50m Freestyle

1991 European Championships - Barcelona
Silver - 100m Backstroke

1992 Paralympics - Barcelona
Silver - 100m Backstroke

1994 World Championships - Malta
Silver - 100m Backstroke
Silver - 4 x 100m Medley relay

1995 European Championships - Perpignan
Silver - 100m Backstroke
Silver - 100m Freestyle
Silver - 400m Freestyle
Silver - 4 x 100m Freestyle relay
Silver - 4 x 100m Medley relay

1996 Paralympics - Atlanta
Silver - 4 x 100m Medley relay
Silver - 100m Backstroke
Bronze - 400m Freestyle

1997 European Championships - Badajoz
Gold - 400m Freestyle
Silver - 100m Backstroke
Silver - 50m Freestyle
Silver - 4 x 100m Freestyle relay
Bronze - 100m Freestyle

1998 World Championships - Christchurch
Bronze - 4 x 100m Medley relay
Bronze - 4 x 100m Freestyle relay

2000 Paralympics - Sydney
Gold - 4 x 100m Freestyle relay
Silver - 4 x 100m Medley relay

2001 European Championships - Stockholm
Gold - 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay

2002 World Championships - Mar del Plata
Gold - 4x100m Medley Relay
Bronze - 4x100m Freestyle Relay

2004 Paralympics - Athens
Gold - 4 x 100m Freestyle relay
Gold - 4 x 100m Freestyle relay
Gold - 4 x 100m Medley relay
Silver - 4 x 50m Freestyle relay
Bronze - 4 x 50 Medley relay
Bronze - 100m Backstroke

Personal Best

Marc Woods Personal Best

From Marc

“I love to read and listen to inspirational stories, but sometimes it is difficult to apply any of their content to your own life. In writing Personal Best I wanted to share my life experiences, to relate how I dealt with, and overcame, the different challenges that I faced and then went on to achieve success. But, more importantly, I wanted to do it in a way that might be useful to others.

In beating cancer as a teenager, I may have lost a leg, but I gained a new respect for life and a second chance. My experience taught me to approach life in a different way. It taught me to measure myself against my potential and not against others. It taught me about personal responsibility. It taught me that life is about being the best person you can be.

If you are lucky, life teaches you what you don’t learn at school. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve learnt some tough, but invaluable lessons about life on my journey. I’d like to share those lessons with you.”


"Personal Best is a truly inspirational book, written with great honesty, compassion and humility. Marc's ability to overcome adversity and triumph in so many diverse areas is an example to us all. His immense sporting achievements and his work on behalf of the Teenage Cancer Trust is unequalled and his indomitable spirit shines through. - " - Sarah, the Duchess of York

"Marc has a remarkable story and is an absolute inspiration" - Roger Daltrey


"We were absolutely thrilled with Marc's "story". He enthralled us, entertained us he moved us through the emotions, but critically he showed us the power of focus in delivering our goals and objectives. It was so good to see the whole team leaving the session with a smile on their face and a spring in their step." - John Suffolk - Director General, Criminal Justice IT
"Personally and professionally I believe everyone walked away with a special message from you" - Ann Palmer - Senior Events Manager, Barclays Bank
"Marc is a multi Gold winning Paralympic swimmer and he has a brilliant tale to tell. We have used him a number of times for our newly appointed middle managers programme and the feedback is always stunning." - Richard Cullen - HR Director, National Probation Services
"Thank you for taking the time to come and speak to us at our divisional meeting, we thoroughly enjoyed your talk and found it truly inspirational" - Carol Walsh - Executive Vice President Regional General Counsel, Visa International

"His talk was enlightening but also entertaining and he certainly kept the audience sitting on the edge of their seats! His messages about teamwork, communication and being supportive were aptly illustrated and the importance of dedication and hard work were obvious by his own achievements." - Midge Story - Manager of the Zurich Advice Foundation, Zurich Advice Network

"My special thanks to you is for sharing a part of your life straight from the heart - it was inspirational. I was also really pleased that you chose to stay with us on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning as it demonstrated your commitment to, and interest in, us."
Russell Powter - Team Leader Pfizer

Goldman Sachs
"I want to thank you so very much for coming along to speak us. All that were there hung on every word, cheered you down the straight and were with you on the Path to Gold."
Emma Turner - Charitable Services Europe

Manchester 2002 (Commonwealth Games Organisers)
"Many thanks for your inspirational contribution to our staff event last week. I tried to catch you for a word after the event, but you were surrounded by people each time I looked!"
Frances Done - Chief Executive of Manchester 2002 (Commonwealth Games)

Holiday Autos
"The beauty of Marc's presentation was that he tailored his remarkable story to highlight the issues we had discussed in our pre-conference meeting. Every member of my team gained something."
Doug Sawers - Managing Director UK & Ireland Holiday Autos

The Life Insurance Association
"The LIA convention was all about inspiration and motivation and we believe that is embodied in Marc"
Geoff Travis - President of the LIA

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