The perils of retiring from professional sport

Comment on this story


Thorpe_pool

AFP

Ian Thorpe has battled crippling depression and alcohol abuse since retiring from swimming. Picture: AFP Photo/files/Greg Wood

Sydney – Elite sportspeople dedicate themselves to being the best but once it's over and the buzz of winning is gone, the transition to regular life can be daunting and in some cases devastating.

The difficulties they can face on retirement were illustrated this week when Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe was admitted to rehab for depression after a mixture of painkillers and anti-depressants left him disoriented on a Sydney street.

The five-time Olympic gold medallist, one of the world's most recognisable sportsmen, has been candid about battling the demons of depression and alcohol abuse since he called it quits in 2006.

Thorpe has dabbled in various business ventures and tried university courses, and he launched a failed comeback attempt in 2011. But he has been unable to find a direction to pursue and at age 31, he is struggling to cope.

As fellow ex-swim star Kieren Perkins said, after learning of Thorpe's troubles: “There would be many of hundreds, if not thousands of athletes that don't have the notoriety who are at any one time contending with the same things.”

Andrew Hughes, an expert in sports marketing and branding at the Australian National University, said dealing with the transition was a problem across all sports.

“When they stop, there's no training regime, no fame, adulation, no adrenaline. It all disappears,” he said.

“A lot of athletes have no idea how to cope and that's why you see some of them wanting to make a comeback. They long for being the best again.

“Nothing in life can replicate it, it is not being replaced by anything as fulfilling or satisfying.”

He said administrators need to ensure athletes are encouraged to view achievement not just in sporting terms, and to be equally proud of getting good grades or working in the community.

He added that it was important they start establishing a plan for life after sport as soon as possible, although many did not.

Most sports in Australia run an Athlete Career and Education Programme to help prepare for life out of sport, but it doesn't always work out, as evidenced by Thorpe.

Some even drift into crime. Fellow former Australian swimmer Scott Miller, a silver and bronze medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, narrowly avoided jail last month on drug charges.

Even Thorpe's long-time rival Grant Hackett has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons, trashing his apartment in an alcohol-fuelled rampage in 2011 that saw his wife leave him.

It is a problem across all sports, with plenty of high-profile cases, notably former English footballer Paul Gascoigne's very public struggle with alcohol and mental issues.

Even yachtsmen find life away from the spotlight hard, as noted by former America's Cup winning skipper John Bertrand, who is now president of Swimming Australia.

“When I retired, I went through something similar after winning the America's Cup, nothing as extreme as what we are seeing with Ian,” said Bertrand, who skippered Australia II to victory in 1983, ending 132 years of US supremacy.

“That is the big challenge for any person coming from the highest of the high: to find a new area of endeavour within their life where they can become passionately involved and loving what they are doing.”

Australian Institute of Sport psychologist Renee Appaneal said it was important to focus on how athletes had coped with big career and personal steps in the past.

“Transition out of sport is just another transition in their life and we encourage them to look back at how they have successfully coped with other transitions, such as from junior to senior level, leaving home for training academies,” she said.

“It's all about having a development pathway and how they manage that, while helping them deal with stress.”

It was also important to have a support network, she added, but conceded this was harder for elite athletes who are the centre of attention.

“It is harder for them to find trusted resources and support. This is not unique to sport, it impacts all people in the limelight.”

Appaneal said while many sports help athletes prepare for retirement, more could always be done in delivering the strategy and skills to cope, and also in raising public awareness on issues such as depression. – Sapa-AFP


sign up
 
 

Comment Guidelines



  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.

     

Join us on

IOL-Social networks IOL-Social networks IOL-Social networks IOL-Social networks
Tasja_226
I'm a 37 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 45.
View Profile
Bluebell531
I'm a 46 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 60.
View Profile
JillieB
I'm a 61 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 55 and 70.
View Profile
nirina
I'm a 37 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 50.
View Profile
Moze008
I'm a 57 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 55 and 70.
View Profile
RobzMolecule
I'm a 24 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 22 and 30.
View Profile
JanieL
I'm a 24 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 32.
View Profile
meraai_32
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 45.
View Profile
KW82
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 29 and 40.
View Profile
ShanJo
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 42.
View Profile
Bebe1000
I'm a 53 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 49 and 57.
View Profile
Bienkie01
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 34 and 48.
View Profile
Rarefind
I'm a 55 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 52 and 63.
View Profile
Sonskyn83
I'm a 31 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 40.
View Profile
jinxie_007
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 38.
View Profile
fabstanious
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 40.
View Profile
optimistic_36
I'm a 37 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 46.
View Profile
Judith78
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 48.
View Profile
Sale_0084
I'm a 58 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 55 and 65.
View Profile
Doeksa
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 39.
View Profile
Vredelief
I'm a 26 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 34.
View Profile
Minky3001
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 40.
View Profile
MissMoneypenny_13
I'm a 28 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 42.
View Profile
Jenny84
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 40.
View Profile
CTBLONDE
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men and women between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
Gemima
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
Chrissi8
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 36 and 50.
View Profile
sonskyn27
I'm a 56 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Dee37
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 45.
View Profile
FootballCrazy
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 39 and 50.
View Profile
Infin8
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 42.
View Profile
Cathwhite
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Vuurvliegie1974
I'm a 40 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 39 and 47.
View Profile
Okidoki_63
I'm a 51 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile
LimitlessSoul
I'm a 45 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
Authenticity1425
I'm a 39 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 34 and 47.
View Profile
Apple_853
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
Artistixoxo
I'm a 23 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 23 and 28.
View Profile
Blu
I'm a 28 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 27 and 33.
View Profile
EMT2014
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 40.
View Profile
Lesel
I'm a 46 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Girlonabike
I'm a 37 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
ContagiousLaughter
I'm a 41 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 36 and 44.
View Profile
miesies
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 29 and 40.
View Profile
Plattelandsenooi3
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 45.
View Profile
Leigh1979
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 29 and 40.
View Profile
SheBear
I'm a 46 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 51.
View Profile
Maybe70
I'm a 44 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
Kay_722
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 40.
View Profile
Lady_101
I'm a 31 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 38.
View Profile
Denie_28
I'm a 50 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 53.
View Profile
tigerlady28
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 22 and 34.
View Profile
Helene777
I'm a 48 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
TuffLove
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
Butterfly_effect
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 36 and 48.
View Profile
Mickey101
I'm a 25 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 30.
View Profile
PowerPrincess
I'm a 41 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 47.
View Profile
LJC777
I'm a 46 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
Hopeful_dreamer
I'm a 37 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 45.
View Profile
liefilyf
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 48.
View Profile
capenewbie
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Warmsmilewarmheart
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
LielaZ
I'm a 27 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 35.
View Profile
Fire_and_Ice81
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
GypseyTraveller
I'm a 54 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 50 and 58.
View Profile
oceanlover111
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 43 and 53.
View Profile
opsoek23
I'm a 23 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 34.
View Profile
sexyhair
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 50.
View Profile
0044MJM
I'm a 49 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 48 and 61.
View Profile
Angdt
I'm a 21 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 23 and 30.
View Profile
klouise
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 31 and 39.
View Profile
HenrietteF
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 42.
View Profile
your_wildest_dreams
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 55.
View Profile
Lala8610
I'm a 28 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 27 and 32.
View Profile
Biancs_79
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
Smileawhile
I'm a 45 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 52.
View Profile
Bluelily77
I'm a 37 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 34 and 50.
View Profile
GlasswingButterfly
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 55.
View Profile
Liena
I'm a 26 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 26 and 33.
View Profile
FaiRy9
I'm a 26 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 27 and 36.
View Profile
Optimistic2014
I'm a 46 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Enkellopende
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 43.
View Profile
Unicorn17
I'm a 21 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 23 and 26.
View Profile
Smurfette
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Foreverinhope
I'm a 48 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 56.
View Profile
Crispy990
I'm a 24 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 24 and 35.
View Profile
sweets1987
I'm a 27 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 42.
View Profile
Chriz_1985
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
esk123
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 45.
View Profile
Mo1979
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 29 and 43.
View Profile
Kelbels0201
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 42.
View Profile
Isabel_33
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 42.
View Profile
FoXyLaDy444
I'm a 56 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 50 and 65.
View Profile
JustChat76
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
Dollie81
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 49.
View Profile
Bastet_11
I'm a 43 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 48.
View Profile
dragonfly86
I'm a 28 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 35.
View Profile
Persephone101
I'm a 31 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
NotADog
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 50.
View Profile
LovingSerenity
I'm a 38 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 24 and 45.
View Profile
jsetrader
I'm a 58 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
zachki
I'm a 47 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 37 and 55.
View Profile
Banker009
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 34 and 46.
View Profile
Dazz7605
I'm a 38 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 44.
View Profile
richy10
I'm a 57 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 49 and 70.
View Profile
CreativeExplorer
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
Propriety
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
TheDuke_99
I'm a 36 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 42.
View Profile
kannieworrynie
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
rjscm
I'm a 48 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
dinnerfortwo
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
breeze001
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 55.
View Profile
Agent_K1
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 38 and 40.
View Profile
Ons2alleen
I'm a 30 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 24 and 29.
View Profile
cccdovy
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 56.
View Profile
DaveB_791
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
Lastgreatwhite
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
gentlebutcrazy
I'm a 58 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
karooboertjie15
I'm a 40 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 40.
View Profile
Ivanro
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
philip_unplugged514
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 68.
View Profile
Suidwester27
I'm a 53 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 50.
View Profile
DutchDelight_
I'm a 45 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 46.
View Profile
Kiwiana
I'm a 39 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 39.
View Profile
Guardian_24
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 37 and 43.
View Profile
ClassicRocker
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 42 and 52.
View Profile
Peanutbutter1966
I'm a 48 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 34 and 48.
View Profile
Stand64
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 36 and 55.
View Profile
willing_915
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 55 and 70.
View Profile
BENTLEY292
I'm a 45 year old man looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Yvard
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 44.
View Profile
KTM1190A
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 58.
View Profile
Smartboy_102
I'm a 60 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 47 and 57.
View Profile
6s6s6s
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Kitchenslave
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 50.
View Profile
Jericho2010
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 49.
View Profile
HappyEnding
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 36 and 45.
View Profile
cornrlius205
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 50.
View Profile
Bruce_308
I'm a 47 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 41 and 70.
View Profile
Lonomor
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
Fred58
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
Officer_Gentleman
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 48.
View Profile
jacuwig
I'm a 25 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 20 and 25.
View Profile
5star
I'm a 57 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 55.
View Profile
Stdave
I'm a 38 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 42.
View Profile
Coolfun
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
TheRealMrRight
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 42.
View Profile
FamilyMan72
I'm a 42 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 43.
View Profile
SingleNSearching60
I'm a 60 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 55 and 70.
View Profile
Dn212
I'm a 51 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile
Natureboykie
I'm a 60 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 43 and 64.
View Profile
TLS11
I'm a 53 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 60.
View Profile
Zest4Life021
I'm a 75 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 60.
View Profile
cknneth111
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 41 and 70.
View Profile
plodof
I'm a 58 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
Andy_Leo
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Elem_ce
I'm a 35 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
Lockstep
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 49.
View Profile
reinor
I'm a 58 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 61.
View Profile
JustCallMeBwana
I'm a 47 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 45.
View Profile
Alachison
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
matiekat
I'm a 66 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 68.
View Profile
Gambino_Family
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 42 and 70.
View Profile
CL4ptp
I'm a 28 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 22 and 28.
View Profile
Natural123
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
MLACOME0147
I'm a 55 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 49 and 79.
View Profile
JPretoria
I'm a 38 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 40.
View Profile
tommy351
I'm a 61 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 59.
View Profile
Denali
I'm a 45 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 40.
View Profile
pinsnow
I'm a 55 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 65.
View Profile
cloudhopper
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
koolstoof55
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 63.
View Profile
captainkid
I'm a 55 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 47 and 56.
View Profile
VirgoMan1970
I'm a 44 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 50.
View Profile
BossMorne
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Lovelyn111
I'm a 53 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 51 and 63.
View Profile
Ryno_56
I'm a 26 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 34.
View Profile
stumpjumper
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
Brend86
I'm a 28 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 24 and 32.
View Profile
LEANMAN
I'm a 39 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 39.
View Profile
Ironstein06
I'm a 36 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 37.
View Profile
ScottRanger1987
I'm a 27 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 30.
View Profile
wiedahunk
I'm a 57 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 70.
View Profile
dddmelw
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 58.
View Profile
goldenhat
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 36 and 66.
View Profile
Marius_P
I'm a 40 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 55.
View Profile
freddic1
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 47 and 55.
View Profile
pieterl
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 62.
View Profile
lvebird53
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 65.
View Profile
ekke_706
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 55.
View Profile
Firefox_771
I'm a 63 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 42 and 56.
View Profile
henisright
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 37 and 53.
View Profile
naughty_sporty
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
OohCharles
I'm a 53 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
virgo5
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 65.
View Profile
daniel101
I'm a 44 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 32 and 38.
View Profile
brightday111
I'm a 55 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 59.
View Profile
gavinzn
I'm a 57 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 57.
View Profile
versl_550
I'm a 55 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile

Business Directory