Eventually every athlete has to retire, though sometimes injury or illness force them to quit while still in their prime. Being a full time athlete means eating, drinking and sleeping your sport. No part is taken lightly and it truly is the athlete’s entire life.
Forced retirement is never positive. When athletes are forced to retire before their time they can find themselves lost. Their entire life is taken away and they have to rebuild.
“It’s not easy,” said Elizabeth Gordon who recently retired from short-track speed skating.
Gordon had known for years that she wouldn’t be continuing to skate for too much longer.
But it doesn’t make it any easier knowing “your time is almost up.”
The 23 year old has started taking a couple classes in university but still is not sure what she wants to do next.
Feelings of regret, fear and failure plague many retired athletes. The fear is of not knowing what will happen next, and if there’s anything else the world can offer them.
Keara Maguire has been retired from long track speed skating for more than a year after battling with Crohn’s disease proved too difficult on her body.
Maguire was involved in the sport for 17 years.
“It really is starting over, like learning to walk again,” said Maguire.
The way athletes have to learn to live again is a challenge different from ones they’ve faced.
Maguire explained that one can re-start their life many times and this should be seen as brave and recognized for how challenging it is.
Being cut down in one’s prime due to illness or injury feels like failure.
For an athlete failure is one of the worst feeling imaginable. When they put all their time and energy into one thing and fail it is devastating.
Athletes’ lives are dominated by practice and intense preparation for their discipline.
According to the Livestrong website many times athletes will “experience depression when unprepared for the transition,” into retired life.
This is generally due to the athlete losing their sense of purpose and having trouble learning a new routine and way of life.