‘As an athlete, you really do get to live twice’

Italian shooter Nicco Campriani, who retired after winning two gold medals at Rio 2016, expertly combined his passion for engineering with a decorated sports career and has since joined the IOC aiding in coordinating the Career+ programme, helping other athletes take the next step. Here, the 31-year-old reflects on the challenges of finding balance as an athlete and argues that you should relish the opportunity to begin a new chapter in your life.

  • Your worth as a person is not defined by your sporting success says the Olympic gold medallist
  • Don’t do something because you think you should, but because it matters to you
  • Support yourself as a person and not just an athlete
  • Athlete365 can help you set up a tailored mentorship opportunity with a career expert

I’ve come across so many athletes whose happiness has rested on winning a medal – this shouldn’t be your goal. One shot, one race, one match will not define who you are.

Losing out on a gold medal does not make you a failure. In the end, the journey you’ve been on and the people you’ve met will matter more than any medal won.

Understanding this will help you gain an advantage over those who consider their performance at the Olympic Games to be the be-all and end-all.

Pursue your passions – but find the right balance

Those watching can sometimes forget that you are more than an athlete. Athletes are human beings with a variety of different passions, some of which might not even be linked to sport.

I majored in industrial engineering, graduating from the West Virginia University in 2011, and even used my own personally designed air rifle at London 2012. I’m confident that this ambition to combine my passions and study made me a better athlete.

If I had dedicated myself entirely to the sport, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed as much success. This is all part of the journey that you will go on. Building your career is similar to building a healthy relationship. The distance needs to be right to keep your passions alive.

To maintain your spark, you need to constantly remind yourself of the options available to you and actively pursue any other interests you have.

Don’t look to study as a safety net

Studying alongside your career as an athlete can open doors, but it’s important you don’t look to this as a safety net. This shouldn’t be the point.

You should avoid considering a degree as little more than a back-up plan, that if something were to go wrong it would provide you with something else to do.

Whatever you choose to pursue should be about cultivating who you are as a person. Don’t pick something because you think it might come in handy somewhere down the line; pick something that matters to you and the life you want to lead.

Build a support network you can trust

Make sure you aren’t alone. You will inevitably encounter challenging times as an athlete, and you will want someone to turn to for advice.

Throughout my career, I met a handful of the most important people in my life, people who are still with me now. Crucially, they weren’t supporting me as an athlete but as a person.

You will experience moments of uncertainty and perhaps feel hesitant about taking the next steps, particularly after retirement. Learning from and speaking to others you can trust will help you to make sense of difficult situations.

Embrace the opportunity to begin a new chapter

Above all else, you should look to your career transition as an amazing opportunity. As an athlete, you really do get to live twice. I’m in my thirties now and creating a new chapter in my life – there aren’t many careers that will allow you do to that.

When you reach the end of your career, you should refuse to accept that the best part of your life has happened already. You might have enjoyed an incredible career as an athlete, but that success and enjoyment doesn’t have to stop.

It will be a little daunting, but it could be the start of another hugely exciting journey in your life.

Interested in learning more about your career options once you retire? Athlete365 are offering you the opportunity to have a tailored session with one of 30 experts from The Adecco Group, in which you’ll receive career advice and mentorship. Click here to find out more.