SPORTS

Olympic champion Baumann takes final Ottawa swim

01/16/2012 08:35 EST | Updated 03/17/2012 05:12 EDT

Former Olympic gold medal swimmer Alex Baumann has taken his final swim in Ottawa as the Canadian icon moves across the world.

Baumann, 47, is a Canadian Olympic icon after winning two gold medals and setting two world records at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Those accolades were also the reason behind his return to Canada in 2006 from Australia to spearhead the Canadian Olympic Committee's 'Own the Podium' program.

Baumann, who was originally born in Prague —but moved to Sudbury, Ont., when he was young — became chief executive officer in 2010 in a quest for Summer Olympic gold.

Own the Podium reign ended due to prostate cancer

His tenure came to a sudden halt, though, after learning he had prostate cancer in April 2011. This led to robotic prostate surgery April 26, which was the second cancer-related surgery for Baumann after a procedure to deal with testicular cancer in 1999.

Baumann officially announced he was stepping down as CEO of Own the Podium in September to move back down under, this time to Auckland, New Zealand.

Baumann, who deems himself cancer-free, said he wants to be closer to family and will also become that country's CEO of high-performance sport on Jan. 31.

"It made me think a lot about family and what was important in life," Baumann said of learning he had prostate cancer.

"I will miss the people, the relationships. I'll miss those people. Hopefully I will see them in London 2012."

Coach says Baumann's legacy will last

Baumann has always been known for being in good shape and he has continued to swim at the University of Ottawa.

His coach, Duane Jones, has watched Baumann since the early 1980s when the former Olympic champion trained with the Nepean Swim Club.

He said Baumann's legacy would remain in Ottawa even after he crosses the ocean to influence Kiwi swimmers.

"His spirit will always be here," Jones said."The athletes have learned a lot from him, exercise protocol, how to be positive, how to be focused. That attitude will last in their lives."

Baumann and his family board a plane to New Zealand on Wednesday.

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