Golden girl of Special Olympics not ready to retire

When Cassy Geffke was born with Down Syndrome, doctors told her mother Diane that she’d never accomplish much in her life.


Thirty-three years later, Cassy’s biggest challenge is keeping track of all of her achievements.

Competing in gymnastics, she has travelled the world.

“I love China, I’ve been lots of places all different countries. My favourite World Games was in North Carolina and Los Angeles,” she said.

Ms Cassy has just returned from the World Games in Los Angeles loaded with silverware. She finished second overall with one gold, three silver and a bronze.

She competed with more than 6000 athletes from 165 countries and performed to half a million spectators in the arena, but said nerves weren’t a factor.

“I never get nervous, I’m fantastic when I’m out there and doing the best I can,” she said.

She’s competed in four World Games in her 25 years of gymnastics and bronze is her worst result. Her first year on the international stage at just 17 when she took five gold medals and topped the tally, finishing first in the overall standings. The next three Games she finished second.

The key to her success is never missing a training session. “I never miss training, never ever,” she said.

A claim that her coach Kerry Woods can attest to. “Even if she’s sick she still has to come along, but her mum has to say, ‘No you have to have a day off’. She was down here when she had pneumonia.”

Geffke began the sport at just 7 years old to maintain her health and fitness, which can be a challenge for people with Down Syndrome. However it was soon apparent that her skills were world class.

Her mother Diane Geffke said her daughter’s achievements had gone above and beyond what anyone had hoped for.

“We were told she’d achieve very little, we said we’d give her the same opportunities that we’d give her brother and sister knowing there would be limitations and she’s done very well to achieve as much as she has,” she said.

Competing at an elite level, she’s travelled to China, Greece and the USA. After having just a week off since returning from Los Angeles, Geffke is now back to training ahead of the next round of competition.

But at 33-years-old, there’s talk she may retire from international tournaments.

“I thought, ‘Do we go out on a high or do we keep going until she’s not capable anymore?’ But the choice is really Cassy’s,” Diane said.

And it seems Cassy has already made up her mind.

“I want to keep going as long as I can,” she said.