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.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

India's bidi workers suffer for 1,000-a-day habit

date 12 hours ago

Zainab Begum Alvi and her band of young helpers hunch over baskets filled with tobacco flakes and dried leaves, trying to roll a thousand dirt-cheap cigarettes a day at the behest of India's powerful bidi barons.

Key to better sex ed: Focus on gender & power

date Apr 17, 2015

A new analysis by Population Council researcher Nicole Haberland provides powerful evidence that sexuality and HIV education programs addressing gender and power in intimate relationships are far more likely ...

Journal tackles aging policy issues raised by White House

date Apr 17, 2015

In anticipation of the forthcoming 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA), The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) has produced a special issue of The Gerontologist that outlines a vision for older adults' econom ...

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.