Mark Tewksbury to lead Canada at 2012 London Olympics
Two-time Olympian Mark Tewksbury has been named Canada's chef de mission for the London 2012 Games.
"I have the amazing honour and privilege of being the chef de mission," Tewksbury announced on CTV's Canada AM Thursday morning.
"I got the news a little while ago and have been sitting tight on it until today, so finally I can talk."
The chef de mission is selected by the Canadian Olympic Committee as the official representative and spokesperson of the Canadian Olympic Team. The position completes a full turn for Tewksbury, who was considered an opponent of the Olympic establishment at the end of the last decade because he was a voice for Olympic reform and an executive of OATH, a body for Olympic Athletes acting honourably in the wake of the Salt Lake City corruption scandal.
In addition to inspiring and motivating the 2012 Olympic team, Tewksbury says he'll also be working to ensure the team reaches its goals during the next Olympiad.
That means continuing the "Own the Podium" approach that took Canada to a third-place finish at the 2010 Winter Games, albeit with slightly different expectations.
"At the Summer Games it's a bit different," the 1992 Olympic champion backstroker said, noting more than 200 countries will be vying for Olympic gold in 2012.
"Our Owning-the-Podium will actually be a top-12 finish. We don't know exactly how many medals that will require, but that's certainly the goal."
Tewksbury, 42, competed in two Olympics before retiring from competition in 1992. At the 1988 games in Seoul he won a silver medal as part of Canada's relay team. In 1992, Tewksbury beat expectations to snatch Canada's first gold medal of the Barcelona games.
He has since been inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
His commitment to gays being allowed to compete without discrimination in sport has been a focal point of his post Olympic career. He was an executive of the Outgames held in Montreal.
In 2006, he published his second book, an autobiography entitled Inside Out: Straight Talk from a Gay Jock.
Tewksbury is a public figure in the gay community, 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.
A few months after coming out about his sexuality, after the bribery scandal surrounding the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games broke, Tewksbury became prominent around the world as a critic of the International Olympic Committee and demanded reforms to the system.