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What happens to Seychelles athletes when their time comes to an end? |15 January 2022

Seychellois athletes are proud and determined to represent their country to the best of their ability.

High level athletes train extensively for years, they spend their youth, often making extensive personal sacrifices in order to pursue their dreams of glory. These may include moving away from their family, losing time on their academic studies and sacrificing personal or romantic relationships.

For many athletes, retirement is something they do not wish to think about when they are active. However, whether they have achieved glory or failed to reach the highest level, their sporting careers will eventually come to an end, whether this is through age, injury or choice.

Athletes once they leave the days filled with rigorous training, extensive time spent travelling and competing abroad, this is the time in their lives when they may be susceptible to depression, identity crisis or adjustment problem. Those who have prepared for their retirement go through without many difficulties.


How do retired athletes cope with the three Selves?

Ideal self – refers to the person you would like to be – it represents your values, your sense of right and wrong. It is what you expect and demand of yourself. How the public/country values your contribution.   

Public self – is the image you believe others have of you. This may or may not be how the public see you after retirement.

Real self – the sum of those subjective thoughts, feelings and needs that you see as being the authentic you. This can be constantly changing and people can look at you differently.

You must have confidence in yourself and feel worthy as a person, then you can rebuild your self-esteem.


Social identity

The diversity of athletes’ social identities can affect their adaptation to retirement transition. Researchers associate retirement with a loss of status and social identity. Many athletes define themselves in terms of their popular status, although this recognition is typically short-lived. As a result, retired athletes may question their self worth and feel the need to regain the lost public esteem.

An intervention programme also can be useful means of facilitating the transition process. A pre-retirement programme is necessary, such programme should emphasise the transfer of skills from sport to new career.


High level athletes coping strategies in preparation for retirement

  • Reduce your elite recognition with your sporting role and expand your self-identity to other activities.
  • Discover interests and competences for other activities beyond sport (perhaps considering coaching or the mentoring of other athletes)
  • Acquire stress management and time management skills (such skills will represent tools that help you better reconcile sport with your other roles)
  • Enrol in training programmes during your sporting career to enable you to live a life with dignity at the end of your career.
  • Consult a sport psychologist to help explore further avenues and adaptation techniques

Therefore it is highly important to create an association for retired high level athletes and those who are not in a high level programme.

Although we are a small country with a small number of high level athletes, we should start thinking of implementing a programme that prepares athletes for their retirement. The aim is to make the athletes more independent and live a life with dignity after sport.

You cannot be a role model during your sports career and live an unhealthy life during your retirement.


Who is responsible to accompany the athletes in that difficult journey?

My contribution is a small drop of water in a big ocean, but after all it’s the little drop of water that makes the mighty ocean.


NOTE: The article is based on information collected from social media, past athletes and sports psychology research.


Maurice Denys (Mr)                                                                                                              

Certified Mental Coach (CMC)

S.N.H.S.Dip (Sports Psychology)                                                  

S.N.H.S.Dip (Life coaching)


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