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Olympians Among Us: Maggie Hogan

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The Rio 2016 Olympic Games are in full swing as Team USA continues to amaze supporters all over the world. Maggie Hogan, who works with GE Transportation’s Wreck Repair Team, will be competing in the Women’s K1 200m and 500m Canoe Sprint races in her first Olympic preliminary events on Monday, August 15 and Wednesday, August 17.

Maggie has competed in various disciplines of paddle sports throughout her athletic career – including canoe sprint, dragon boat, surf lifesaving, surfski, and canoe marathons. The 500m Canoe Sprint is a race to the line on a flatwater course. Both canoes and kayaks compete in the sprint discipline and are distinguished on the results sheet by their initial letter C and K. Maggie will be racing in a one-person kayak. Learn more about this sport and Maggie’s Olympic aspirations in this interview with Canoe & Kayak.

Maggie managed to spare a few moments away from training to tell us more about how she became interested in this sport and how she balances her career and training for the Olympic Games.

How did you become interested in kayaking and competing in it as an Olympic Sport? 

MH: I like to say that the sport found me. I was a swimmer in college and I worked as an ocean lifeguard during my summers. I started competing in a sport called Surf Lifesaving - an ocean racing event that included an ocean racing kayak. I was horrible at it! I couldn’t keep the boat upright. At the time, I was going through the San Diego Lifeguard Academy and a fellow student was a coach for Olympic style racing boats. These kayaks are extremely hard to balance, even more so than the ocean racing variety. I started learning to balance myself in the Olympic boat to improve my skills in the ocean. I picked up Canoe Sprint pretty quickly and was invited to a camp at the Olympic Training Center in San Diego within a few months. I had some early success in the sport and I was hooked! I’ve been a fan of the Olympic Movement since I was five years old, so I decided to try to qualify for the Games. Not everyone gets an opportunity like this and I had to take it. 

How do you balance your time between your job and training for the Olympic Games? 

MH: I’ve had a job my whole career as an elite athlete. Canoe Sprint is a fringe sport with very little available funding, so most athletes in our sport have jobs. I used to work in cancer research, but that became very difficult as I began to travel more. We travel around the country to train (between California, Florida and Oklahoma City) and most of our races are in Europe. Having a job that is stationary is almost impossible.  My job with GE Transportation is remote which is a lifesaver, and I have brought it to all corners of the world. It will come with me to Rio too!

How would you describe the level of support from your colleagues at GE Transportation?

MH: I’d give my team an 11 out of 10. I have the most amazing team and my manager, Rick, is the best I’ve ever worked for. He is very understanding of my schedule and supportive of this endeavor. I am very grateful to be part of such a great team!

As an athlete, what does it mean to you to be an employee at a company that is a Worldwide Partner of the Olympic Games?

MH: Because GE is an Olympic Games partner, they understand and respect how profound the Olympic Games are for the entire world. GE also understands how much time and energy athletes pour into their preparations and racing.  It is fantastic to work for a company that is willing to support athletes during their time of greatest need when trying to qualify for a Games. 

Finding a company that will work with an elite athlete’s schedule is extremely difficult. At one point in my career, I was trying to set myself up as a substitute teacher in three different states, so I could earn no matter where I was training (this didn’t solve the problem of earning while I was overseas, but it was a start). My first day as a substitute I had 20 Kindergarten and First Graders for 8 hours; I now have so much respect for teachers! Also, it turns out that having twenty 4- and 6-year-olds for eight hours is not the best thing for training. We train 25-30 hours a week, so being on my feet for a job is not ideal. Working remotely from a laptop has been the best thing. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

MH: I would like to thank my team and GE for supporting the Olympic movement. I hope that GE is able to support more athletes like me in the future. I cannot express how much this job has supported me on this incredible journey.

Best of luck to Maggie in the Olympic Games! Keep track of Maggie’s events here. You can also visit Maggie’s Team USA profile.

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