The Rio 2016 Olympics came to an end on Sunday with an eventful closing ceremony. For me, it was time for the Olympics to finish. I just spent the last two weeks glued to my TV screen. If you can imagine, that hasn’t been the best for my waistline! I can’t help but wonder however, what about the athletes? Those who won and those who lost, what will happen to them?
How do you go back to living a normal life after the Olympics?
Once the Olympic flame goes out, so does the twinkle in the eyes of the Olympic athletes. We are thanked for representing our country and we hope for the best. But quickly, we lose sight of things and then, we become lonely. No more coach, no more diet, no more discipline, and no more glory. We end up feeling empty. Without the structure that was, we feel like the walls are caving in on us. That structure gave us security. Now, we don’t have any security and we have to make our own decisions. It’s terrifying!
My childhood dream became a reality, but it left me with little satisfaction because in the end, I was still far from the top of the podium. The only thing left to do was to fill the void in my life with a new challenge. Athletes search for ways to feel alive and exhilarated in their normal life. But what is a normal life? Can anyone help me answer that?
It was devastating for me not to wake up in the morning and go to the pool. So I took a new route and started offering private shows to whoever would pay well. I never enjoyed it. I simply did it to make money. But then my lifestyle started to upset me. The "show business" and this after hour life was just not for me.
Following their Olympic careers, many athletes suffer in silence from diseases like depression and even go as far as to take their own life. Others, also fall into prostitution.
I didn’t want to be known or appreciated simply for what I had accomplished, but for what I did right now. But when you have spent most of your life being judged based on how perfect you are, you always seek to please others and to meet their expectations.
I can’t really say that my retirement as an Olympic athlete was successful. I am one of the many athletes who have trouble accepting that their careers are over. The fact is, I’m still not ready to move on to something new. I still have the same passion and the same desire to push my body to its limits.
While I wait to find the answer or a new career path, I decided to jump back in the race for glory and perfection. I’m back and I have a new challenge: To participate in the next World Championships in a mixed duet. That means, I’ll be swimming with a male synchronized swimmer. Yes, men do synchronized swimming too! I’ll be returning to the water with my swimming partner Robert Prévost and participating in the next World Championships in Budapest in 2017.
This time, I’m preparing a better plan and strategy for my future exit.
Until then, may the best man win!