And having retired from the Paralympics, he is now embarking on a series of tough cycling challenges, the first around Loch Ness later this month.
'Fossy', from Whittington, has two fingers on each hand and is a double below knee amputee. He dedicated his life to sport from a young age and has become a prominent wheelchair basketball player.
After representing Great Britain in volleyball at the Atlanta Paralympics and scooping two national records in swimming and indoor rowing, he then went on to represent Great Britain in wheelchair rugby. Classification issues resulted in him missing out on Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 and he turned to wheelchair basketball.
Mark was part of the World Championship basketball squad in 2014 in South Korea, before winning the European Championships in 2015 and qualifying for the Rio Olympics. A few months before the 2018 World Championships, Mark decided to retire to spend more time with family and to further his career, in which he helps get more disabled people into sports.
He has previously played for a Wolverhampton-based basketball team.
He had been a keen cyclist but everything changed when he contracted Covid-19 right at the start of the pandemic, and then again last year.
“I got Covid at the end of March 2020. I remember two days before lockdown, being on a train and seeing someone coughing and looking ill. I thought “I hope they don’t have that thing people are talking about”. They must have because a week later I felt awful. Eventually I started to feel better before going rapidly downhill and I eventually made my wife call an ambulance.
“I had empyema - fluid on the chest - resulting in a collapsed right lung and two types of pneumonia. I spent three weeks in hospital and three months off work. At one point it didn’t look like there was much hope for me and I was almost admitted to the ICU. Thankfully, I battled through. However, my fitness took a massive hit and I had to start from the beginning to build it back up,” said Mark.
“Just when I was getting my fitness back, despite being double vaccinated, I got Covid again in October 2021. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as the first time, but it still left me feeling tired and foggy.
"Cycling helps me access places I wouldn’t otherwise be able to go. With my artificial legs I can’t walk far, but cycling doesn’t cause the same stress and, in September 2021, I eventually undertook a 112-mile ride to raise funds for breast cancer.”
On April 24 he is taking part in the Etape Loch Ness, a cycle sportive around the famous loch.
“For 2022, I’ve signed up to several rides where I will be raising funds for the Richard Whitehead Foundation; a newly formed charity desperate for funds, that I have been made a board trustee of.”
The foundation works with young disabled people who may be facing physical and emotional challenges to help them reach their potential. It proves support, information, advice, equipment and opportunities.
The Etape Loch Ness is one of eight to ten sportives Mark is planning to undertake to raise funds for the Richard Whitehead Foundation this year.
“I’m hoping to meet up with friends from Rhino Racing - a team on Zwift - at the Etape Loch Ness. I have made friends from all over the world on the virtual platform but I’ve never met them in person, so I am really looking forward to meeting them for the first time, while taking in the beauty of the loch and really enjoying the day.”
To find out more about Mark’s fundraising for the Richard Whitehead Foundation, and to donate, please go online to justgiving.com/fundraising/fossyrides.