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For top rowers the adjustment to retirement and normal life can be brutal

In the wake of the Rio Olympics many of the world’s top rowers have announced their retirement from the sport. Of course, depending on the circumstances, experiences will be very different. But an element of challenge somewhere along the line seems to be a common factor in the transition to ‘normal’ life.

Martin Cross listened to two powerful and very different testimonies of what it’s like to experience this transition. Cross, who has written about his own experiences in his book Olympic Obsession, spoke to Caroline Lind of the USA and Alex Partridge of Great Britain (pictured right).

On the surface, the stories that Alex and Caroline tell seem very different. Alex talks from the perspective of having ‘retired’ four years ago. Caroline’s experience of stopping international rowing is much more raw. Understandably, they are at different points on ‘the change curve’. That much is reflected in what they chose to focus on, the level of detail and the particular perspective they tell their stories from. But both tales have a powerful resonance for current rowers, those who have retired, and of course those that run squads.

Caroline's Story

Caroline Lind was born in 1982. She won her first senior US team vest in 2005. Since then she has won two Olympic gold medals and seven world championship titles, as part of the US women’s eight. In 2014 she was World Rowing’s top-ranked female athlete. Caroline had major back surgery in 2015 and recovered in time to win back her place in the team for 2016. But it was not to be. She decided to retire from the sport in the summer of 2016 and now works in alumni-relations for the Lawrenceville School, NJ.

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About Row360

Welcome to Row360, the world’s only global, independent rowing magazine. Row360 brings you features from around the world, profiling the best athletes, coaches, and others from the whole rowing community – Olympic, Paralympic, college, club, ocean, and more.