Mark Tewksbury is a true icon—recognized for his achievements in sport, public speaking, and humanitarianism. A sought after personality, Mark has spent decades sharing his life experience with audiences around the world. Mark first came to prominence as the star athlete who burst out of the water to a gold medal victory at the Barcelona Olympics, and who also boasts silver and bronze Olympic medals to his credit. He has even graced the cover of Time magazine. In 2012, Mark acted as Chef de Mission at the Summer Olympic Games in London. CTV’s The Social had the opportunity to sit down with Mark to discuss his “Great Traits” work with Olympic Coach Debbie Muir, along with his position on LGBT issues in relation to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
Watch Mark’s segment here. The clip begins at 4:45.
Q: You’ve written three books! What’s on your bedside table right now?
A: On my bedside table right now is Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden. He’s an amazing writer who writes about aboriginal issues in Canada.
Q: You get to travel all the time for your work. If you could have two weeks off tomorrow, where would you go, or maybe not go?
A: Barcelona. In a heartbeat. I just rediscovered it many years after winning there and fell in love with it.
Q: You’ve told the National Post that you can’t travel without your iPad for its entertainment value. What would be on your most-watched list?
A: Right now, I’m watching Suits, which I’m really surprised I loved. I downloaded it randomly, and it’s really charming. I’m also watching Boardwalk Empire, which is a little darker, so I kind of go between the two. And then I’m a notorious Scrabble player, too, I have 1,040 games played – so nerdy! My iPad actually got stolen out of the New York airport. I checked it, stupid me, so I’m back at game 20 on Scrabble, but it’s okay.
Q: You said in an interview in 2006 that you were tired of talking about being gay. How do you deal with being the “go-to guy,” as you’ve called it, when unfortunately, it’s still a relevant issue in sports?
A: It’s sort of evolved a little bit. I feel like I’m moving into the elder stateman position, as opposed to the face of, and I think that there are some new athletes, especially because of Sochi, that have come out. So they’re going to take the banner, hopefully, but it’s been a long time, 15 years. I guess I’ll always be associated with it, but it’s nice to be moving away from it. Everything feels like it’s in its place. I feel like I did my time. When you’re in the issue, there’s such a burning desire to make change, but I don’t feel that burning desire anymore, because I’m not on the front lines as much.
Q: Would you have any qualms about going to Sochi now as an openly-gay athlete?
A: I wouldn’t have any qualms, but I’m really grateful that I’m not going. It’s tough to go to a place where they’re really explicitly against you. It’s hard to feel welcome in a foreign place where you’re targeted. So if I was going, I imagine I would be courageous and bold and probably do something, but I’m grateful that I’m not in that position.