Part of Outsports’ series on our 100 most important moments in gay sports history.
Swimming, 1998. Mark Tewksbury was one of the most celebrated athletes in Canada in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When he won the gold medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics for 100m backstroke, he was the first Canadian swimmer to capture gold since 1984 and the first Canadian to win gold in Barcelona. He won the race in incredible fashion, trailing the entire time until the final 5 meters; And he set an Olympic record along the way (video of the race below).
In 1998, Tewksbury told the media that he was gay, becoming the first Canadian Olympian to do so. Tewksbury was also one of the last (if not the last) gay athletes to lose money because he came out of the closet when he was dropped from a motivational-speaking contract because he was "too gay."
Since coming out, Tewksbury has had an on-and-off relationship with the Olympics because of alleged corruption he witnessed. But he's now on again as the official representative and spokesperson for the Canadian Olympic team next summer in London. He was also the co-president of the organizing committee for the First World Outgames in Montreal in 2006 and became a face of the event.
He's a member of the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
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