Gail Emms feels sports stars must 'grieve for their careers'
GAIL Emms feels sports stars must grieve for their careers before fully being able to move on with the rest of their lives.
Former badminton player Emms, who won silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics, retired after the Games in Beijing four years later.
But, talking to the RunFree podcast, Emms revealed she felt like she died when her time on court came to an end.
“Your ego crashes because the real world is not the same as sport,” said Emms, 42.
“But no-one tells you this and in sport you’re on a conveyor-belt really.
“You get chucked off if you don’t perform or get injured.
“If you get to the end you’re one of the lucky ones but you still go off the cliff.
“I fell down and it hurt.
“It felt like I died and you do have to grieve your sports person self. “You have to say goodbye and it’s awful.
“There’s no therapy and that hurt.”
Emms also won World and Commonwealth gold during an illustrious career.
But she was never allowed to consider what she might do when she stopped playing badminton.
“I told the coaches I was going to be done after Beijing but at not one point did anyone allow me to think about what life might be like after I retired,” said Emms.
“I was just so focused on Beijing I hadn’t really thought about what was going to happen afterwards.
“Sports people’s egos are huge so when I finished I was waiting for these offers of work to come in and I was convinced I’d have all these options because I’d been told I was the queen of badminton.
“But that didn’t happen.”
And Emms feels athletes should be allowed to prepare more for life after sport.
“I think every athlete should have an education or something else other than sport,” said Emms.
“In this country, if I wanted to do education alongside my badminton UK Sport would have cut my funding.
“Athletes are made to believe they have to focus 100 per cent on sport and you don’t.
“It’s not right and it’s not healthy to do that.”