Tewksbury was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division) in 1993 for being a "motivational speaker and a gifted athlete."
Raised in Calgary, Alberta, Tewksbury trained at the University of Calgary.
He competed at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and won a silver medal as part of Canada's relay team. For some years he ranked as one of the top backstrokers in the world; never a strong below-the-water swimmer, he was unmatched on the surface, but, as the importance of below-the-water swimming increased, Tewksbury's ranking began to fall.
Going into Barcelona, Tewksbury was ranked fourth in the world and most pundits picked one of the powerful American swimmers to win gold. Tewksbury's gold medal was Canada's first at the Barcelona games and the first Canadian gold in swimming since the Communist-boycotted 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Tewksbury also won a bronze medal in the relay event in Barcelona. He made the cover of Time magazine. He was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, and the International Swimming Hall of Fame and was named Canada’s Male Athlete of the Year. After the Barcelona games, Tewksbury retired from swimming.
After retirement, Tewksbury received a number of high-profile endorsement deals and worked as an athlete representative with the IOC, a position from which he resigned in disenchantment in 1998, accusing the IOC of rampant corruption. He was also part of the group of former Olympic athletes that was pushing for the resignation of IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. Only months after the scandal surrounding the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic winter Games broke, Tewksbury became prominent around the world as a critic of the IOC and demanded reforms to the system.
In 1993, Tewksbury and Mark Leduc both gave interviews about their homosexuality to the CBC Radio series The Inside Track for "The Last Closet", a special episode about homophobia in sports; however, as neither was ready to fully come out at the time, both interviews were given anonymously and recorded through voice filters. In December 1998, Tewksbury officially came out as gay; he subsequently lost a six-figure contract as a motivational speaker because he was "too openly gay."
Tewksbury was also highly critical of Swimming Canada's organization in the wake of the national team's poor performance at the 2004 Athens Olympics, where they failed to medal. He suggested that there was a lack of accountability within Swim Canada, and that head coach Dave Johnson was given too much power.
Tewksbury became a prominent advocate for gay rights and gay causes in Canada and the world. On May 16, 2003, Tewksbury joined the board of directors for the 2006 World Outgames in Montreal and was named co-president.
Tewksbury was the narrator for the TV show How It's Made during the first season. In 2006, he published his second book, an autobiography entitled Inside Out: Straight Talk from a Gay Jock. Tewksbury remains a public figure working as a motivational speaker, a television commentator for swimming events, and a continued activist. He is a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Athletics Foundation.
On November 30, 2006 Tewksbury was the Master of Ceremonies for the Tribute to former Prime Minister Paul Martin at the Liberal Party of Canada's Leadership and Biennial Convention in Montreal.
During the 2008 Summer Olympics, Tewksbury served as CBC Sports' Swimming analyst alongside play-by play announcer Steve Armitage.
In December 2008 Tewksbury was invited by the government of France to speak at the United Nations in New York City on the day that a declaration was introduced that affirms gay rights and seeks to decriminalize homosexuality.
On September 19, 2009 Tewksbury was inducted into Canada's LGBT Human Rights Hall of Fame, the Q Hall of Fame Canada, in honour of his outstanding achievements and efforts to end discrimination in the sports world.
On August 5, 2010, he was named the chef de mission of the 2012 Canadian Summer Olympic team.
Inside Out: Straight Talk from a Gay Jock by Mark Tewksbury
Hardcover: 262 pages
Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 7, 2006)
Amazon: Inside Out: Straight Talk from a Gay Jock
Amazon Kindle: Inside Out: Straight Talk from a Gay Jock
Mark Tewksbury is best known as a gold-medal-winning Olympic swimmer. His remarkable sixteen-year athletic career included three Olympic medals, numerous world records, and inductions into three major halls of fame: the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Although retired as an athlete, Tewksbury remains a highly respected public figure. He delivered prized swimming analysis for the CBC from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, hosts the Discovery Channel's popular How It's Made show, and is Co-President of the first World Outgames, Montreal 2006.
Tewksbury has spoken to millions as part of his eighteen-year speaking career and remains much in demand as an inspirational speaker to companies and organizations around the world. For his active humanitarianism, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Western Ontario in 2001, and in 2005 Tewksbury was awarded the International Person of the Year Award at S?o Paulo Pride in Brazil. He currently lives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
For more on Mark Tewksbury, please visit www.MarkTewksbury.com
"To reach the pinnacle of Olympic Swimming takes incredible dedication, resilience and courage that few possess. To reach your true self takes these attributes and a great deal more courage so, therefore, even fewer arrive at this point in their lives. Mark Tewksbury is one of these courageous people who achieve so much and through pain, suffering, daring, and pure fight, become who they truly are, inside and out."
--Duncan Armstrong O.A.M., Australian Olympic Swimming Legend
More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Persistent Voices
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