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Mark Tewksbury

Mark Tewksbury
Summer Games 1996

(born February 7, 1968) is a former Canadian swimmer. He is best known for winning the gold medal in the 100 metres backstroke at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Raised in Calgary, Alberta, Tewksbury trained at the University of Calgary. He attended 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 games, Tewksbury retired from swimming. He received a number of high-profile endorsements 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 Salt Lake City Games broke, Tewksbury became prominent around the world as a critic of the IOC and demanded reforms to the system.

In December 1998, Tewksbury announced to the Canadian media and people that he was gay. He was the first Canadian athlete to voluntarily state his homosexuality and his announcement drew great public attention. In 1998, he lost a six-figure contract as a motivational speaker because he was "too openly gay."

Tewksbury and Martina Navratilova read the Declaration of Montreal at the opening ceremonies of the World Outgames.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 30th, 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.

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