A Champion On and Off the Bike

Fall 2015 As Seen in Our Fall 2015 Issue
A Champion On and Off the Bike

Alicia Gogue may have talked her way into a spot in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, but it was her strength, attitude, and love for cycling and health that earned her two silver medals. She’s been flying ever since.

Alicia is the daughter of Alex Gogue, the school’s software engineer. At 31 years old, she got to fulfill a dream and be part of the once-in-a-lifetime experience of cycling in the Games held in Los Angeles this year. When she mentioned to a tour guide during a summer trip to the Olympics Training Center last year how much she would love to compete in the Olympics, she had no idea it would lead her to receiving an invitation.

“I doubted it at first,” says Alex. “But when we got the confirmation email, it was unbelievable—we were honestly filled with joy and excitement.”It wasn’t a day later that Alicia began upping her training, much of which she did with her father, to prepare for her Olympic debut. An athlete himself, Alex has always supported his daughter in her passion for fitness, from holding the back of her bike while she learned how to ride to encouraging her involvement in“The first time I rode my bike by myself, I didn’t know if I could do it, but my dad—he believed in me.”
— Alicia Gogueall kinds of sports. Alicia says, “My dad is my source of encouragement … the first time I rode my bike by myself, I didn’t know if I could do it, but my dad—he believed in me.”

At the games, Alicia competed in the 500-meter, 1,000-meter, and 2K races, coming in second place in the two longer races. While the competition was unlike anything she had experienced even as a member of Special Olympics Maryland, Alicia affirms it wasn’t about winning or losing.

“It was about the experience. Cycling provides health to me, and I think all sports are like therapy. They teach you to look ahead at your future, to reach up for others, and to never give up hope.”

Photos courtesy of Alex GogueEven knowing the health complications that are often associated with Down syndrome, Alicia has made her life one of positivity, exercise, and helping others. As a young girl, she never gave up on playing with the other kids and becoming involved in all kinds of physical activities like swimming, gymnastics, golf, horseback riding, and even taekwondo, in which she earned a black belt. As she grew, so did her passion for inspiring others. She attended Anne Arundel and Cecil County community colleges to earn certification in child development, and she now works as a teacher assistant at the School of the Incarnation, where she sees her position as a way to make a difference in people’s lives.

“I never want to be defined by a label, and that’s why an active life is important to me. Cycling, maintaining good health, and helpingothers are all part of that,” says Alicia. And whether or not she ever makes it back to the Olympics, it’s the support she gets from her dad and family that makes the ride all worth the while.

“Riding the bike is like having wings on your back. And getting to do it with someone you love makes it that much more fun.”

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