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