• By: Katie Hartai

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Mark Tewksbury

2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canadas Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.

Canadas Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

 Mark Tewksbury: Athlete, Swimming

A true Canadian icon, Mark Tewksbury is recognized not only for his unnamed-5astounding international swimming achievements but also for his valuable work as a humanitarian.

Although Tewksbury was born in Calgary, he spent his earliest years in Dallas, Texas. Taking a dip in the pool was his favourite way of escaping the southern heat as a five-year-old. Upon moving back to Alberta with his family, Tewksbury began to swim regularly at the Cascade Swimming Club and later with the University of Calgary Swim Club, where he developed world-class techniques.

Years of training paid off when Tewksbury competed with Canada’s relay team in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and won a Silver medal. Four years later in Barcelona, Tewksbury won another medal in the relay event—this time Bronze, along with Gold in the 100-metre backstroke. The 1992 Olympics were his last before retiring from professional swimming. In total he won 21 national championships (11 individual and 10 relay) and was named Canada’s Male Swimmer of the Year four times.

unnamed-4While sporting victories contributed to his early success, Tewksbury has been truly defined by his life after competing. He officially came out as gay in 1998 and has since become a prominent advocate for gay rights nationally and internationally. Among many of his efforts, Tewksbury stood up for human rights at the 1st World Outgames in Montreal in 2006, he has addressed the United Nations on the decriminalization of homosexuality and has mentored other young gay athletes.

The charismatic Olympian has devoted decades of his life to motivational speaking in schools, companies and organizations around the world. His contributions to public education on issues concerning sexual identification were honoured earlier this year by the University of Toronto when he was presented with the Bonham Centre Award.

To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.