German bobsledder Maximilian Arndt won two world championship gold medals and enjoyed significant success in the four-man discipline before announcing his retirement from the sport in June 2016 at the relatively young age of just 28 – swapping his slick bobsleigh for a blue and silver Thuringian police car to pursue a career with the police force. Here, he explains how he dealt with the transition to life after sport and explains why it doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem.
- Bobsledder’s seemingly sudden decision to retire was a result of a number of factors
- Retiring from top-level competition doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your passion
- Moving into a new career brings opportunities you might not have had as an athlete
The seemingly sudden decision to retire came as a surprise to many of my fans and fellow athletes, but really it had been a long time in the making. Many factors contributed to the decision. The most important one was the crash I had in Altenberg in 2015, which seemed to leave something behind in my mind. A certain risk tolerance was missing afterwards and I realised I wasn’t giving 100 per cent anymore. You need that level of commitment to keep up with the world’s elite, and if that’s lacking then maybe it’s time to have a rethink.
The birth of my daughter was also a big factor. Life as a policeman is considerably slower and safer than the bobsleigh! There is always a certain risk but since we don’t deal with major criminals in my department, it’s not too bad. These are the sorts of factors you might want to consider when thinking about retirement.
The competitive edge
I don’t think I would ever leave the police service, but a return to sport could happen alongside my job as a police officer, maybe in an organisational capacity or as a coach for athletes at the Thuringian police. Even though your time at the top might be over, there are still many ways in which you can continue to enjoy that passion, whatever your sport.
As well as the option of coaching, competing still plays a part in my life. I’m a passionate footballer and play as a striker for my local club FSV 04 Viernau. Admittedly, I have only scored a few times and I am not happy about it, but we’re having loads of fun and that’s what it’s all about. Just because you’re not competing as an elite athlete anymore it doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to competition.
One door closes and many more open
I have no conflicting emotions about leaving my career as a professional athlete behind, and now I can focus on the new important things in my life.
Since I grew up with bobsleigh, a significant part of my life is now over but I have no regrets. After all, I can spend more time with my family and friends and I can do things like skiing, which was not possible before due to the risk of injury. And, anyway, due to work and family commitments, I don’t actually have much time to dwell on the decision.
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