Matt Forgues’ goal of competing in the Tokyo Olympic Games has ended due to a worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Forgues was a four-time state champion racewalker for Boothbay Region High School, and he’s spent the past six years competing internationally as a 50K racewalker. But Forgues has decided to retire from international competition due to the Tokyo Olympics’ postponement. Forgues has focused on the 2020 Games for the past four years. He quit his teaching job in South Dakota and moved to San Diego to train full-time, but the one-year delay is too long for Forgues.
“I knew I would be scraping by, but I just can’t compete in 2021 due to the financial commitment,” he said. “I’ve delayed going back to school and training costs are just too much for me to continue for 18 more months.”
Forgues finished fourth in the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials. His time was “well off” the winning time, but he thought training full-time may result in a spot on the 2020 team. In January, he finished second in the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 50K racewalking event. This didn’t qualify him for the Olympics. Forgues needed to rely on an Olympic selection based on his world ranking. The Olympic Committee would round out the 50K field with competitors ranked with a Top 60 world ranking. Forgues is 66th, but the coronavirus has canceled all international track and field events and blunted his bid to improve his ranking. And the decision to move the Games to 2021 made Forgues decide against seeking an Olympic berth.
“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices like not traveling back to Maine to visit family and friends, delaying my education in pursuing a career as a PA (physician’s assistant), but I can’t do it anymore. But I’m excited about signing up for classes this fall. I’ve dedicated myself to racewalking for the past four years, and it’s shown me I can do anything I set my mind to.”
Forgues is married and works as a long-term substitute high school history teacher in Southern California. His personal 50K time is four hours, 11 minutes and 43 seconds. He also qualified for seven Junior Olympic teams and five senior teams. Forgues competed in the 2019 Pan American games in Lima, Peru and finished fifth in the 14-man field. “The other competitors were all ranked ahead of me so I was pretty happy finishing fifth,” he said.
After graduating BRHS in 2010, Forgues received an athletic scholarship to attend Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa. He transferred after one year to Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland and decided against competing on the school’s track team. In 2014, he graduated and began training as a racewalker. Training for Olympic athletes is demanding, but 50K racewalking is the longest distance track and field event. For Forgues, the training has taken a toll on his body over the years.
“50K is 31 miles, and as I got older, the training became more difficult and that also played a part in my decision,” he said.