New challenges for ex-Olympians

When elite-level athletes retire, they often struggle to adapt to their new lives. When finding that the characteristics that were valuable in sport are not equally useful in 'ordinary' life, they often start experiencing disorientation, depression, self-doubt or even illness. This is concluded in research from the University of Gothenburg.

Successful athletes at the elite level develop characteristics that should generate success also later in life. However, this notion may be wrong, according to the new research.

As part of a study, ex- from Sweden, Switzerland, USA and Australia were interviewed. All subjects participated in either the 2008 in Beijing or the 2010 in Vancouver.

Some well-developed features turned out to be very useful in the retired atheltes' lives. Two examples are perseverance and organisational skills. However, characteristics, such as , hyper-competitiveness, self-centredness and submissiveness, are much less useful and are indeed not desired – at work, in school and in family life.

'Some ex-athletes say that adapting to post-sport life is more difficult than anything they ever experienced as athletes,' says Natalie Barker at the University of Gothenburg, who headed the research project.

The study reveals that those who managed to keep some kind of distance to their sport, or who were able to critically reflect on their experiences, were able to develop a more flexible and mature self-image.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

How can we help manage eating disorders?

9 minutes ago

These guidelines are for the clinical management of eating disorders They are intended to provide current evidence based guidance on the assessment and treatment of people with eating disorders by psychiatrists and other ...

More aging boomers, but fewer doctors to care for them

3 hours ago

By 2030, the last of the Baby Boomer generation will have turned 65 years old, putting the population of "senior boomers" in the United States at approximately 71 million. Currently, only about 7,000 certified geriatricians – ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.