by Rex Wockner
International News Briefs
Openly gay former Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury will lead Canada’s team to the 2012 Games in London. The Canadian Olympic Committee selected the three-time medalist as the nation’s “chef de mission.”
Tewksbury won a silver medal swimming the backstroke in the medley relay in 1988 in Seoul, a gold in the 100-meter backstroke in Barcelona in 1992 and a bronze in the relays in Barcelona.
In a 2001 interview with this reporter in Montreal, Tewksbury talked about his coming out.
“They were grooming me to become the next IOC (International Olympic Committee) member for Canada (but) I just felt I couldn’t be myself in that environment,” he said in the interview. “I left the country in 1994 and moved to Sydney, Australia, to come out, essentially – to explore my own sexuality. Finished my degree in political science and studied gender politics as well. I was studying the theory and living the practice in Sydney. It was a great time.”
“I came back to Canada in 1996 because of the IOC,” he said. “You have to live in the country you represent. By 1998, I just couldn’t stand it – some people knew, some didn’t – it wasn’t spoken about. And I just thought, I can’t keep pretending not to live my life anymore. So I came out Dec. 15, 1998. I did a one-man show. That’s how I chose to do it. A good friend of mine worked for the Globe and Mail, which is our national newspaper, and just kept hounding me to let him do the story. The morning of the opening of the show it appeared on the front page of the Globe and Mail. I had 96 calls from the national media by 9:30 in the morning.”