University of Calgary

Portrait of a champion

UToday HomeJuly 16, 2012

Mark Tewksbury, left with artist Gordon Milne, is now one of 15 athletes honoured in the Canadian Sports Heroes Collection at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Photo by Nathan LongMark Tewksbury, left with artist Gordon Milne, is now one of 15 athletes honoured in the Canadian Sports Heroes Collection at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Photo by Nathan LongFormer University of Calgary swimmer and current Canadian Olympic team Chef de Mission Mark Tewksbury interrupted his preparation for the London Olympic Games last week, returning to his hometown of Calgary to complete a daunting task.

The 1992 Olympic gold medallist unveiled a portrait of himself commissioned for the exclusive Canadian Sports Heroes Collection at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

The acrylic portrait by Alberta artist Gordon Milne is one of only 15 that honour exceptional and inspirational Canadian athletes. Conceding he was nervous throughout the artistic process, Tewksbury was thrilled at the finished product.

“I am completely moved by Gordon Milne’s portrait of me,” he said. “I have had a long and vast career in sport and humanitarianism, and I feel that this powerful image captures so much of it. While I can see the swimmer I was, Gordon has captured the leader and man I have grown to be.”

Tewksbury’s leadership ability is something Team Canada athletes will rely on at this month’s London Olympic Games.

“As the Chef de Mission, I am the liaison between the athletes and the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games and the International Olympic Committee,” he said, adding he will also build and foster a supportive environment for the 16-day event beginning July 27.

Tewksbury began training with the University of Calgary swim club from the age of 13, eventually competing for the Dinos as a varsity athlete. He took part in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic games, winning a gold medal in the 100-metre backstroke and bronze in the 4x100m medley relay at Barcelona in ’92. He also picked up a silver medal in the medley relay at his first Olympics.

Tewkesbury is at a point in his life where he has progressed from a young athlete, to Olympic champion, IOC ambassador, media commentator, and now a mentor to young athletes.

“I feel this Games closes my own Olympics circle,” he said. “But, for me, it is exciting to see all these other athletes starting their own journey and spinning off on their own circles.”