Olympians’ strug­gle with nor­mal life earns ex­pert at­ten­tion – at last

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union -

To in­ter­view Alex Gre­gory fresh off his hand-shriv­el­ling Arc­tic row, was to be struck pow­er­fully by the dif­fi­cul­ties that many Olympians have faced in in­te­grat­ing back into nor­mal life.

Just six months af­ter win­ning his sec­ond gold in the men’s four in Rio, he was as­sailed by a panic that he had lost his iden­tity. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, who am I?’” he says.

At last, the per­ils of ath­lete tran­si­tion are be­ing recog­nised in aca­demic lit­er­a­ture. An ar­ti­cle this week in the jour­nal Qual­i­ta­tive Re­search in Sport, Ex­er­cise and

Health uses the ex­am­ple of for­mer fe­male gym­nasts as ath­letes “whose iden­ti­ties are com­pletely de­fined by their ath­letic selves”.

Adap­ta­tion from the fish­bowl of elite com­pe­ti­tion to the de­mands of a reg­u­lar ca­reer can be fraught, even trau­matic.

Just ask Gail Emms about her prob­lems pay­ing the bills af­ter hang­ing up her bad­minton rac­quet.

It is vi­tal that the sub­ject is be­lat­edly re­ceiv­ing the at­ten­tion it de­serves.

In Rio, Gre­gory was as­sailed by a panic that he had lost his iden­tity

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