Domhnall MacAuley is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK
You step off the podium into an abyss. And, that’s if you have been a success. For everyone who competes at top level, medallist or not, the transition is dramatic. If your sporting career has come to a sudden end due to injury, poor performance, or you are unexpectedly dropped from the team, there can be an overwhelming sense of failure or unfulfilled ambition. No one sees what happens when you leave the stage. Adjusting to the real world can create huge challenges for former athletes and often, the greater the success, the more difficult to readjustment.