For race walker Matthew Forgues, Saturday’s second-place finish at a qualifying event moved him closer to his Olympic dream and was even sweeter for being able to share the moment with his husband as an openly gay athlete.
Forgues, a substitute school teacher in the San Diego area who told his coming out story last fall, finished second at the U.S. Olympics 50K race walking trials, held near San Diego.
“As far as Tokyo goes, only the three of us are eligible to be selected from the USA, so Top 3 was priority yesterday,” Forgues told Outsports. “And after that race my ranking will increase two spots, so I’ll be ranked 69th internationally, but only the top 60 make the Olympic field. I have to race again in Belarus this May and just go for it! I’d say my chances right now are about 40/60, so we’ll see.”
What was special for Forgues was to be able to compete openly as a gay athlete and share the moment with his husband, Manuel Martinez. Chris Mosier — who made history Saturday as a trans athlete competing in the Olympics trials (an injury forced Mosier from the race early) — snapped a photo of Forgues and Martinez with the rainbow Pride flag after the race.
“An old woman, who had to be in her 70’s or older, saw my husband and I with the Pride flag and came up to me, thanking us,” Forgues said. “She thanked me for being out and vocal about it because I was never allowed to be and gave me a hug. It was so sweet and we all started crying as soon as she left.”
In his coming out story, Forgues chronicled his journey from a small town in Maine where he first came out to his push to make the Toyko Olympics.
“Even if I don’t make the team, it’ll have been 100% worth the journey,” he wrote in his story. “Within two months of living in San Diego I met my husband, Manuel Martinez, who has been an incredible part of my support system both on and off the track, my pillar of strength.
“He supports me mentally, runs my aid station during races and most importantly lifts me up when I’m experiencing a low during training.
“Half the prize is the journey. Our relationship and the experience of being an Olympic hopeful is more valuable to me than any medal ever could be.”
Forgues can be reached by email (email@example.com) or Instagram (matthewcallingelk). He is crowd-funding to pay for his training costs to make the U.S. Olympic team.