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What Do Athletes Do After They Retire?

What Do Athletes Do After They Retire?

Tom Daley and Ed Clancy among those who have announced plans to retire this year.

Laura Sanders

Laura Sanders

Tom Daley is one of a number of athletes who plan on taking a step back from the Olympics after this year's games. And while it appears Daley has a promising knitting career ahead of him - what do athletes generally do once they retire?

Daley made his Olympic debut in 2008 at the Beijing Games and after 13 years of competing, he finally won a gold medal with diving partner Matty Lee in Tokyo this year.

The 27-year-old had planned on taking a step back from the Olympics after Tokyo, but he's since told the Olympic Channel Podcast that it might not be the end for him yet, with the next Olympics only three years away due to COVID-19 pushing Tokyo back a year. "I've always said I'll keep going as long as my body will let me," he said.

Despite this, retirement, whenever that will be, and his prospects post-Olympic career have clearly been on his mind.

What do athletes do after they retire?

Most athletes continue to be involved with the sport they love in one way or another after retiring.

Daley has already expressed how much he loves to give advice to aspiring Olympic divers and he thinks it's important to pass on the torch, so it looks like he could go on to coaching Britain's future diving stars eventually.

Tom Daley at the London Aquatics Centre in 2019. (

Many athletes go on to coach and pass on their wisdom to the next generation of Olympians. Some, like Adam Peaty who has his own coaching company, begin doing this while they're still competing themselves.

And of course, the first step after bowing out of the Olympics, for athletes whose bodies are still up for it, is to compete in smaller events and gradually phase out of competing.

On Tuesday 3rd August, Team GB cycling legend Ed Clancy announced his immediate retirement and withdrawal from the rest of the Tokyo Games due to a flare up with his back injury. But while he gives his teammates the chance to go for gold in Tokyo, he said he plans on rounding off the season with participation in the UCI Track Champions League.

Clancy added that he'll remain involved with the sport and plans on growing the Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy following his retirement from the Olympics.

Great athletes continue to enjoy celebrity status from their triumphs at the Olympics. It's because of this that many retired athletes can benefit from future appearances on TV and at other events, as well as continued corporate sponsorships and brand endorsements.

Following the London 2012 Olympics for example, Daley was asked by ITV to present on their new reality TV series about celebrity divers.

There are also various book deals and other ways for athletes to make money by sharing their experience of getting to the Olympics.

What does Michael Johnson do now?

Michael Johnson, former Team USA track star who's still a world record holder today, has been watching the games closely in Tokyo this year. He's been retired for many years, but his net worth proves he found something to keep him going post-Olympics.

Johnson has continued to stay involved in the sport, mainly as a commentator and newspaper columnist for UK and US media. In 2007, he opened the Michael Johnson Performance training facility in Texas, a company established to help support and train the next generation of track stars.

What happened to Usain Bolt?

After retiring from the Olympics, Usain Bolt tried to make a career in football. But in 2019, after failing to secure a professional contract with any teams, his agent confirmed he would be focussing on "business" and stepping away from all sports.

"I'm now moving into different businesses, I have a lot of things in the pipeline, so as I say, I'm just dabbling in everything and trying to be a businessman now," Bolt told ESPN.

That same year, Bolt unveiled his new mobility e-scooter from his company Bolt Mobility at the Vivatech startups and mobility fair in Paris.

Featured Image Credit: PA & Instagram/@mjgold4

Topics: olympics, Tokyo Olympics