Leader | Champion | Olympic Icon
Mark Tewksbury first came to prominence as an Olympic swimming gold medalist, but it’s his remarkable life post-Olympics that has truly defined him. In 1998, Tewksbury made headlines as one of the first openly gay Olympic champions in the world, and has since used his voice, and ever-evolving leadership positions within the Olympics and beyond, to make a difference for others. One of the country’s most sought-after speakers, Tewksbury inspires and empowers his audiences with his personal stories of leadership against the odds.
Tewksbury’s ongoing fight for justice, fair play, and equal rights has made him a unique Olympic icon whose reach goes far beyond sport. The Toronto Star said, “Only the greatest fight for what they believe in, taking on people and institutions and closed minds because the battle is important. Few have done that more often, more successfully, and more importantly than Tewksbury.”
Tewksbury’s leadership within sports began in 1996 when he joined the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Site Selection Commission for the 2004 Summer Olympics. However, in 1999, he made front page news as he stepped down from all of his Olympic posts and co-founded OATH, an organization created to hold the IOC accountable to its own ideals. In 2012, Tewksbury re-joined the Canadian Olympic Team as their Chef de Mission, redefining the role. He was also nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Sport Analyst in 2017.
Today, Tewksbury sits as a Director of the Canadian Olympic Committee, where he continues to fight for inclusive, fair, and principled sport. He also sits on the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Canada, where he has held a position since 2009. During his term, he founded the Champions Network, a group of celebrities 50+ strong that use their profile to highlight the sporting accomplishments of people with intellectual disabilities.
Since coming out more than 20 years ago, Tewksbury has been a leader and mentor in the global LGBTQ+ movement. He was invited by the Government of France to address human rights at the United Nations as the first declaration to decriminalize homosexuality was introduced in 2008. In recognition of Tewksbury’s enormous impact in the movement, he was one of three pioneers featured in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights’ 2015 exhibit on the power of sport to inspire positive change.
For his athletic achievements, ethical leadership, and contribution to society, Tewksbury has received five honorary degrees, the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), and the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada.