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The athlete’s journey: transitions through sport
The athlete’s journey: transitions through sport

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3 Case study 2: Kristian Thomas

In the next activity, you will explore the story of another Olympic medallist – former gymnast Kristian Thomas [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] who retired after the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Activity 3 Kristian Thomas: switching identity

Timing: Allow about 25 minutes

Watch the video below in which Kristian Thomas talks about his retirement and life after sport. As you watch the video, reflect on what helped him to have what he described as a positive and smooth transition.

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Video 3
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Kristian appeared to be very focused on just gymnastics until two years before he retired, when he began to plan for life after sport. Like Lizzy, Kristian had a chosen retirement and was able to plan when he retired and had the support of a performance lifestyle advisor. He felt that his transition was made easier because he had a new focus (university) immediately after he retired. This was important as he was able to switch his identity from ‘athlete’ to ‘student’. Kristian highlights an important point in the video – that everyone will have a unique experience of retirement. Some athletes will have a positive retirement and some athletes will have a negative retirement.

Both Lizzy Yarnold and Kristian Thomas appeared to have positive experiences of retirement and life after sport, but is that the case for all athletes? In the next case study, you will explore a young footballer’s story.