A county standard swimming as a teenager Marc Woods has his left leg amputated because of cancer at the age of seventeen.

The day after he had his stitches out, he went swimming and within a year, he was swimming faster with one leg, then he did when he had two …

His dream was to simply be the best that he could be and just eighteen months after he finished his chemotherapy, he was selected to represent Great Britain.


Marc Woods - International Inspirational
Marc Woods – International Inspirational

Marc competed internationally as a swimmer for seventeen years; winning twelve Paralympic medals from five games and a further twenty-one from either World or European Championships.

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

At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, he worked for the BBC as a commentator and presenter, as well as performing in the opening ceremony. Book through Speakers Inc

Currently, Marc Woods – International Inspirational spends his time presenting at business conferences around the world, giving insights into personal responsibility, leadership, teamwork and motivation.

He has written three books, most notably ‘Personal Best’: a combination of his inspirational life story and personal development advice. More recently, ‘Beyond the Call’, which, supported by research from New York University, looks at how to create conditions within an organisation that make discretionary efforts more likely.

Marc Woods

Marc’s keynotes include:

Challenge & Overcoming Adversity

The story:

Marc Woods – International Inspirational had his left leg amputated due to cancer at the age of seventeen. He had been a county swimmer before the diagnosis and the day after his stitches were taken out, he went swimming again. Within a year, he was swimming faster than what he had swam with his two legs.

His dream was to simply be the best that he could be and just eighteen months after he finished chemotherapy, he was selected to represent Great Britain. He subsequently competed at European & World Championships and Paralympic Games.

In his seventeen years of competing, he won a staggering twelve Paralympic medals form five games; four of these medals being gold.

The ‘take homes’ of this keynote:

–          Through ‘choosing to be the best you can’, it is possible to turn a negative into a positive driving force.

–          Focus on the things under your control and block out those which aren’t.

–          To stay on track, take the time to find out what motivates you.

Facing Change & Taking Responsibility

The story:

As a teenager, Marc Woods – International Inspirational would describe himself as ‘lazy’. Faced with a daunting situation, he took personal responsibility to get on with his life to the best of his ability.

In this presentation, Marc describes having to learn to walk again and how taking the time to do that as well as he possibly could, still positively impacts his life today.

The ‘take homes’ of this keynote:

–          We can’t always choose what changes us but we can choose how to deal with it.

–          Taking personal responsibility for change is in itself a positive action.

–          Encouraging and listening to feedback is critical.

–          Take the time to review.


During this presentation, Marc plays a video of his thrilling relay race in Atlanta where the team came from seven meters behind only to lose by twelve one hundredths of a second. The gold medal was within touching distance … and then it was gone.

After reviewing everything, it wasn’t until after Marc had watched the video of the race that he had noticed something. There they were; all four of the team on the medal podium; two with beaming smiles on their faces and two looking devastated.

It was then that he realised what was wrong: they had competed as four individuals and not as a team. Two wanted to win and the other two were happy with second and third place.

Following this disappointment, Marc Woods – International Inspirational describes how a culture of teamwork was developed and how the team pulled through to win gold in Sydney. He also describes how the notion that everyone has a role to play in winning, regardless what their day to day job is, was communicated to the broader support team and how this ensured a further gold medal in Athens.

The ‘take home values’ of this keynote:

–          If a team doesn’t share a common goal and objective then they are unlikely to achieve their true potential.

–          Do you know who’s on your team? Take time to agree on objectives and to get ‘buy in’ with your team.

–          How to get ‘buy in’ from support staff.


When Marc was first asked to lead the team, he willingly did it but it was only through making mistakes that he realised that he needed to develop his leadership and communication skills.

In particular, he needed to improve his listening skills and thereby his ability to obtain buy-in from his team mates. Marc describes turning a dysfunctional team around by creating an open environment where people were passionate about being the best that they could be.

The ‘take home values’ for this keynote:

–          Leadership skills cannot be learnt.

–          Leaders must be passionate.

–          Leaders have to listen.


Motivation and inspiration are a given within this presentation. Marc speaks with passion, humour and humility. Utilising superb BBC TV footage, his story takes the delegates on a journey from cancer patient to multiple medal winner. Follow SI on Twitter

Additional information about Marc Wood:

–          An ambassador for the London 2012 Olympics.

–          Member of the British Paralympic Advisory Panel for London 2012 Games.

–          Director of the Youth Sport Trust.

–          Trustee of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

–          Ambassador of CANSA (South Africa’s Cancer Charity).

–          Patron of the Bone Cancer Research Trust.

–          BBC Sports Commentator: 2002 – present.

–          Awarded honorary Doctorate by Middlesex University.

–          A Freeman of the City of London

–          Honorary City of Penascola – Florida.

Marc Woods


“I want to thank you so much for coming along to speak to us. All that were there hung on every word, cheered you down the straight and were with you on the path to gold”
Goldman Sachs

“Marc is the perfect choice for our executive development program”

“Mark’s story is itself remarkable but the way he draws out so many personal and professional parallels in such an entertaining way, means that the audience’s attention is 100 % all the way through. I think every one of our 400 staff who attended, gained something personally and I can see our company growing stronger as a result”
“My special thanks is to you 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 and Wednesday morning as it demonstrated your commitment to, and interest in, us”

“Personally and professionally, I believe that everyone walked away with a special message from you”

“We were absolutely thrilled with Marc’s story. He enthralled us, entertained us, he moves us through 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 leap”
Criminal Justice IT

“Marc is a multi-Gold winning Paralympic swimmer and he has a brilliant tale to tell. We have used him in a number of times for our newly appointed managers program and the feedback is always stunning”
National Probation Service

“I enjoyed your talk at our event yesterday. Suffice to say, it was easily the high point of the day and everybody (I mean EVERYBODY) who attended that I’ve spoken to, feel exactly the same”

“What can anyone say about this guy he is an absolute inspiration. I really enjoyed listening to Marc. It was very humbling, thought-provoking, informative and funny all at the same time.”
Transpennine Express