Perez eyes gold in Vancouver

Oct. 09, 2009, 12:05 p.m. (ET)

Augusto Perez starts everyday the same, a kiss to his wife and "Buenos dias te quiero mucho" he does the same to his five year old twins. But unlike each mundane morning, he can pin point exactly when he began competing in wheelchair curling.

"I started on October 16, 2005, my wife knows it well, it was our wedding anniversary," he says.

Family always comes first for this Paralympic athlete. As the eighth child in a family with ten kids, Perez has developed a humorous perspective on life perhaps due to his rank in birth order.

Even after losing a leg in 2003 to leiomaiosarcoma, a rare, aggressive type of cancer, Perez has kept his comical side with him.

When asked about his disability he says, "What disability...oh yeah I'm missing a leg, well I don't have it and I don't miss it."

Humor and determination have helped propel him to success in wheelchair curling.

Originally from Madrid, Spain, Perez was offered a soccer scholarship to Hilton Head Preparatory School in Hilton Head, South Carolina for his senior year in high school. That's where he became Goose. In Spain he was Gus for short, but his new American high school friends couldn't pronounce it and gave him the nick name "Goose" and it has since stuck.

Goose continued his education in the United States at Paul Smith College and Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. In 2003 he became an American citizen.

Three years later he became a U.S. Paralympian. In 2006 at the Torino Paralympic Winter Games, Goose was part of the first ever U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Curling Team.

With the extra two years of experience under his belt, Goose won the first medal for the USA at Worlds in Switzerland in 2008. That same year he won USA Curling Male Athlete of the Year, a first for a wheelchair player.

During the summer Goose competes in outrigger canoeing. He claimed gold at the World Championships in 2008 in the 500m sprint and earned a silver medal in the 12 person canoe. His gold medal was the first for an American athlete with a physical disability at the International Canoe Federation (ICF) World Championships.

While he was presented the gold medal, his son ran on stage screaming,"my daddy won me a medal" as he placed it around his neck.

The moment says Goose, "was priceless, it made all my hard training worthwhile, all my medals go into the kids' room, I hope I can get him another medal in Vancouver."

Goose will be competing in the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games but has plenty of training to do before then.

A typical day consists of an hour of cardio, weight training, stretching, a regular workday and two and a half mile rowing session in the evening.

When asked about his favorite part of curling, Goose says, "I love the strategy part of the sport and the finesse, the competition and the curlers in general, wow I just realized I like it all!" Of course that all comes second to his family who are his biggest supporters.

"I finish the day with a kiss too, even when I am away for training or a tournament I give them the same amount of kisses, yes, get the tissues out, I love them what can I say."

Comments