More than 10,000 athletes from over 200 countries will be gathering in Rio de Janeiro in August for Olympics 2016, hoping to fulfil a lifelong dream. After years of hard work and determination to reach their peak performance, their time has finally come.
But what happens when the Olympics 2016 flame is extinguished? For many, the dying embers of the flame signify the start of a challenging journey into the unknown. So what lies ahead for them or for any athlete facing retirement?
Retirement can be a crisis, a relief or both
Retirement from elite sport and transition into the next stage of your life, whether it is paid employment or otherwise, is a complex process. It is also a very personal one. Each individual lives the transition in his or her own unique way. Often it is totally unpredictable. It can be a crisis, a relief or a combination of both.
You may experience a variety of emotions ranging from joy that a new chapter of life is beginning, or perhaps shock, denial and frustration to resentment or even grief when the reality sets in. After all, when your identity is so closely linked to your sporting achievements, what is left when you take the athletics out of the athlete?
Turbulent emotions can spark negative behaviour
These emotions can result in negative behaviour such as conflict with people close to you, avoiding your family, taking bad decisions with money or even destructive habits such as gambling, alcohol or drug abuse.
If you or someone you know face retirement from sport, you need to take steps to prepare yourself for the challenges that lie ahead. I will be writing a series of articles about this topic over the next few weeks leading up to Olympics 2016, so keep checking in for updates. You can also subscribe to my newsletter and find out more about yourself by filling in our online questionnaire: Are you ready for life after sport?
I have also developed a new online career tool to help sports people transition successfully. If you are a professional athlete and would like to be involved in the testing phase of this innovative new tool, please contact me via the website or call me Tel: +41 79 628 4047
Are you facing retirement or have you retired already? Have any questions or tips for others in the same situation? Leave a comment below.