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This is what gay swimmer Michael Gunning learned about life after surviving Manchester Arena terrorist attack

Patrick Kelleher December 3, 2019
Gay swimmer Michael Gunning realised life is 'so short' after surviving Manchester Arena terrorist attack

Michael Gunning (Adam Pretty/Getty)

Gay swimmer Michael Gunning has revealed that surviving the Manchester Arena terrorist attack made him realise that life is “so short”.

Gunning – who is currently hoping to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games – opened up to the BBC about the terrifying moment a bomb went off at the Ariana Grande concert in May 2017.

“I was so close to where the bomb went off, about 300m away,” Gunning told the BBC’s LGBT Sports Podcast.

“For me, that was a massive turning point. I realised that life was so short and you have to grab every single opportunity you can.”

Gay swimmer Michael Gunning previously opened up about the moment the crowd heard a ‘massive explosion’.

Shortly afterwards, Gunning decided to start swimming for Jamaica – where his family are from – because he wanted to “inspire even more people” there.

The 25-year-old previously opened up about the experience in an interview with The Independent.

For me, that was a massive turning point. I realised that life was so short and you have to grab every single opportunity you can.

“Ariana finished her last song, and the lights went out,” Gunning said. “Everyone stood up to leave and as we were walking we just heard this massive explosion.

“Everybody started to run for their lives and we were all pushing and shoving. It was total panic. You just knew it was life or death, right there.”

He initially struggled to get back to normality after the incident.

Speaking at the time, he said surviving the attack made him realise that he was “so, so lucky to be alive”.

“I struggled for a few weeks after because I just wasn’t sleeping. One day I turned up to train and my coach sent me home, straight to bed.

“I have now got my head around it far better and seeing all those young children killed has given me more of a drive to succeed.”

Elsewhere in his BBC interview, Gunning spoke about the racism he faced as a child – and revealed that people would tell him that black people “sink in water”.


“Because I was quite good as a youngster, qualifying for nationals and different teams, I knew that wasn’t true at all.

“To be doing something that everyone said I couldn’t do was amazing and inspired me to work harder.”

More: Ariana Grande, barb mariani, Manchester Arena bombing, sport, Swimmer

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