Alexandra Cinque, 15, of Ossining, N.Y., won the female light middleweight division at the 2008 Junior Olympics at Ford Field in Detroit, and qualified for the 2008 U.S. Junior National Team. Alex trains with Master Richard DeGeorge at Extreme Sport Taekwondo in Saddle Brook, N.J.
She answered the following 10 questions for this month's USAT Athlete Profile...
Q1: Who's an Olympian you look up to?
ALEXANDRA CINQUE: I look up to many Olympians, but my all-time favorite has to be Michael Phelps. Fighting through his childhood adversities and then accomplishing the impossible in Beijing should be an inspiration to all athletes. I also look up to Steven, Mark & Diana Lopez and Charlotte Craig. What they have done for the sport of Taekwondo and representing their country at the Olympics is exactly where I hope to be in 2012.
Alex and her sister with the Lopez siblings in 2005.
Q2: Do you practice any other martial arts other than taekwondo?
ALEXANDRA CINQUE: I've never tried any other form of martial arts. I've been training in taekwondo since I was 4 years old and have a huge passion for the sport. I've never thought of doing anything else.
Q3: Who is a superhero you'd like to be, and why?
ALEXANDRA CINQUE: If I could be a superhero, I'd like to be Superman because he doesn't have just one power, but many. He can fly, run ridiculously fast and has super strength.
Q4: What is it like being named to the Junior National Team at age 15?
ALEXANDRA CINQUE: It's a huge honor to finally be on the Junior National Team. I've been dreaming of this moment for years and have been working relentlessly to reach this level in this sport. And at such a young age, I still have a lot to learn. This is only the beginning.
Alex after she won the gold at the Junior Olympics in Detroit.
Q5: During all the long hours of traveling to events, what do you do to pass your time?
ALEXANDRA CINQUE: Whether it's a long plane ride to different states for training or competition, or the daily two-hour car ride to New Jersey for practice, I usually pass the time by doing homework, reading, listening to music, watching movies, talking to my crazy and supportive friends back home, and hanging out with my amazing teammates and family.
Alex hanging out with her teammates on the Junior National Team.
Alex (left) with her Coach and Team Extreme teammates.
Alex (5th from the right) posing with her friends back home.
Q6: What motivates you in practice?
ALEXANDRA CINQUE: Our workouts are very intense and not for the faint of heart. We train hard and often. But every time I feel like quitting, I envision myself standing on the podium at the Olympics with the Gold medal around my neck, flowers in hand, USA National Anthem playing and the crowd screaming my name. That gives me the motivation I need to keep moving forward and never stop.
Q7: What do you enjoy studying in school?
ALEXANDRA CINQUE: If you ask my Coach, he will tell you my favorite class is lunch. But all kidding aside, I enjoy all of my classes at school, but my favorite is probably English because I love to read and write.
Q8: Do you have any pre-competition superstitions or rituals that you adhere to?
ALEXANDRA CINQUE: The night before a competition, I have to have some kind of pasta, preferably penne alla vodka. The morning of a fight, I have to have pancakes for breakfast. I have to be wearing white spandex shorts and a shirt under my uniform. My mom gave me a cute pink teddy bear for luck at the U.S. Open last year, and since, I've been undefeated. I've kept it in my taekwondo bag ever since.
Alex getting ready for her final fight in Detroit.
Q9: How do your parents help you?
ALEXANDRA CINQUE: My parents make sure I get to every practice and every tournament. They are my biggest fans. They are always there to support, motivate and cheer for both me and my little sister. Until 2007 when I joined Extreme Sport Taekwondo under Master Rich DeGeorge, my Dad actually used to coach me. My parents are my inspiration, and I am very grateful.
Alex and her family after she won the Gold in Detroit.
Q10: What is your favorite sports movie and why?
ALEXANDRA CINQUE: My favorite sports movie of all time is Miracle. It's such an inspiration, and it makes me want to get up and train right in my living room.