Retiring athletes need motivation, inspiration

Athletes dread retiring due to the uncertainty that lies ahead.

Olympian Che Chew Chan admitted moving from the national taekwondo scene to the corporate world was tough, given the lack of guidance and motivation.

“There were those who judged me, even mocked me. They would say stuff like ‘you can compete in the Olympics but you can’t construct a simple email’. Transitioning was tough,” said Chew Chan, who is now based in Sydney, Australia.

“But there are companies that valued retired athletes. They appreciate our unique soft skills like setting and meeting targets.”

Chew Chan, who competed in the Beijing 2008 Olympics, left the national stable a decade ago as she became a brand and marketing manager in Singapore in 2011. Since then, she has worked in other organisations in Shenzen and Shanghai before landing a job as a customer account executive for Lion – one of Australasia’s largest food and beverage companies.

Che Chan pointed out the National Sports Council has a programme that assists athletes intending to retire and transition to their new way of life but said it would be more beneficial if former athletes shared their views and helped guide the juniors.

“There were plans of getting job placements for our national athletes based on my previous role and I wanted to work with the Olympic Council of Malaysia on that. But the talks never took place and I left for Shanghai.

“I’m in a new role now but I’m still eager to help where possible. Perhaps the athletes need to hear from athletes like me … to help inspire them. At least the athletes can then say ‘he made, she made it’ instead of hearing from someone within the sports system who has never experienced the transition.”

Chew Chan, who appeared on the talk show The RSS with HD over the weekend, is determined to stay in Australia for now.

“Restarting is difficult. I’ve done it in three cities and I hope to make it work in Australia

“Athletes who retire need to drop their egos. There will always be a comparison. Sometimes you will wonder if it’s worth to start from the bottom.”

“But many others who look at athletes will be envious of what we have done.”

Chew Chan admitted most of those in the same age group as her are some 10 years ahead in terms of career.

“I’ll be 10 years behind but it doesn’t mean I can’t achieve what they have. But they definitely cannot achieve what I have.”

Catch Chew Chan on the RSS with HD on YouTube. Hosted by actor Rashid Salleh and Twentytwo13 editor Haresh Deol, the weekly talk show is produced by Professional Storytellers and Toucan Media while Amnig is the official apparel.