Mark Tewksbury, Canada's chef de mission for the 2012 London Olympics, won gold in the 100-metre backstroke at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. ((Frank Gunn/Canadian Press))

Former Olympic champion swimmer Mark Tewksbury has been named Canada's chef de mission for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Tewksbury, 42, competed in two Olympics, winning gold in the 100-metre backstroke at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. He also earned bronze and silver medals in the men's 4x100-metre medley.

"I am truly honoured to have been selected as Canada's chef de mission for London 2012," said Tewksbury, who retired from competition in 1992.

"To lead our Canadian Olympic team into London is an incredible privilege and honour. I look forward to working closely with the Canadian Olympic Committee over the next two years, providing optimum support for Canada's athletes and coaches as we strive to shine on the world stage."

As chef de mission, Tewksbury becomes the official representative and spokesperson for the Canadian Olympic team.

During the Games, he will support and promote the Canadian squad by helping to create an onsite environment conducive to achieving optimal performance. Canada's stated goal in London is to place among the top 12 nations in total medal count.

Tewksbury is a 21-time national champion in swimming and a seven-time world record holder. He also earned four gold medals at two Commonwealth Games appearances (1986 and 1990) and a pair of silver medals at the 1991 World Aquatic Championships.

'Ideal choice'

"As an Olympic champion, a two-time Olympian and swimming icon, Mark Tewksbury is the ideal choice to lead Canada in 2012," said Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut.

"His passion for sport and competition matched with his leadership and poise will serve as a huge asset for our Canadian Olympic team in London."

In 1992, Tewksbury won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's athlete of the year, the Lionel Conacher Award and the Norton H. Crow Award.

The Calgary native has since remained involved in the sport community through various initiatives with the COC and Canadian media organizations.

Tewksbury also was named Canada's male swimmer of the year four times and has been inducted into various halls of fame, including the International Swimming Hall of Fame (2001), Canadian Aquatic Hall of Fame (1999), Canada's Sports Hall of Fame (1995) and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (1993).

In addition to his contributions to sport, Tewksbury was the master of ceremonies for the Dalai Lama's appearances in Ottawa in 2007 and Calgary in 2009, and addressed the United Nations on human rights matters in 2008.

In 2001, he was recognized by the University of Western Ontario and earlier this year by the University of Calgary, receiving an honorary doctorate of laws for athletic accomplishment, ethical leadership and active humanitarianism.

With files from CBC Sports