Life After Sport Is there life after sport for elite athletes who no longer

Life After Sport
Is there life after sport for elite athletes who no longer represent their country and county ? How do
athletes who’s lives revolved around their chosen sporting discipline adjust to ‘life after sport’. Are
national and European titles forgotten once their level of competitiveness has lowered and so too
the lifestyle choices they made to reach the pinnacle of their sporting careers ?
In my opinion the passion, dedication and competiveness that motivated these athletes at an early
age has branched out, blossomed, multiplied and has slowly attached itself to every gene, muscle
and tendon until it is ingrained in their being and lifestyle. The intense training may have reduced
but it has not disappeared for any of the athletes I met while I was researching this topic.
I first asked the athletes what their lives were like at the peak of their careers and how they have
changed post retirement. “I was training seven days a week, it was a professional job for me” said
former Irish rugby star Shane Horgan. “The diet was very strict with little or no fat. Our percentage
body fat was measured every three months so if you had been cheating you’d be caught out straight
away.” During our interview former Meath GAA star Anthony Moyles had a similar answer. He said
his sport “took up nearly eighty percent of his life if not more”. Anthony also added “we had a
nutritionist to tell us what we should be eating. Nights out were out of the question because of
morning training sessions”. European Cross Country gold medallist and World Cross Country silver
medallist Catherina McKiernan recounted how she trained twice a day with a strength and
conditioning session between runs. Catherina also added that her diet was “basic” and consisted of a
“variety of good that food that was high in protein and carbohydrates.”
All three stars still follow a healthy lifestyle. Being conscious of diet and having a training regime is
ingrained in their day to day. Shane told me how “I’m still conscious of my diet today”. Similarly all
three athletes continue to train at a high level. Catherina still runs on a daily basis, sometimes twice
a day. Anthony continues to “train at least four times a week including boxing, GAA and running”.
Their competitive spirits are also still alive and well. Although training at a somewhat reduced level,
comparatively speaking, they set themselves targets and goals. Anthony “can’t let go the sense of
competiveness, even if I go for a run by myself I will set goals that I will try to beat and I’ll be cranky
if I missed even one session. The day I don’t have that competiveness I will be dead.”
So what sets the young rugby star who was scouted at 18 and the young camogie player who
decided one day to see how fast she could run apart ? It is their passion, dedication, discipline and of
course talent. While they undoubtedly miss the days on the sporting stages of Croke Park,
Landsdowne Road and Cross country race courses as well as the camaraderie and adrenaline that
comes from representing your club, county and country they remain largely unchanged. For these
and all athletes there is no such thing as life after sport. Sport is ingrained into their lives. It shapes
and moulds them long after they have retired. Anthony said“I don’t know where I would be without
sport.” Catherina added “looking back I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”