The immediate aftermath of a Games – particularly this time around, with the added complexities of the delay and the effects of the pandemic – can trigger different emotions in different athletes.
BAC ambassador Hannah Cockroft won her sixth and seventh Paralympic titles out in Tokyo, and, along with her ParalympicsGB team-mates, has recently returned home.
Here, three-time Paralympian Hannah gives her advice to those athletes trying to process the unique events of the last few months, and contemplating what may come next.
“At first, it’s a sad realisation that the thing you’ve focussed so hard on over the last five years is over and that you are leaving the stadium and the athletes’ village behind.
“Memories have been made, medals have been won, and hopefully, you are incredibly happy with what you have delivered.
“But my absolute favourite moment after the last two Paralympic Games has been sharing the smiles, the hugs, the excitement with friends and family – this is particularly true this time, as we didn’t have them in Tokyo with us.
“Life is a flurry of activity when you first step off the plane, so don’t expect to be able to sleep these next few days away quite so easily. The media will want a chat, so grab that exposure whilst you can, and everyone will want to hear about your travels and adventures, especially this year when everyone is stuck at home!
“After a few days at home though, I normally start to notice the lack of people around me from the minute I wake up. You can’t text your team-mate to come down to breakfast with you, or find a table full of people at dinner to sit with.
“Life at home can feel a little quiet after village life, and a lot of athletes call this the ‘post-Games blues’. It’s to be expected that, after the high of attending one of the biggest sporting events in the world, life won’t feel quite the same when you get home.
“So take your time, settle in slowly and look back as much as you need to over the incredible few weeks you have just been a part of. If the Games didn’t quite go your way, use the time to plan ahead and realise the opportunities still waiting for you in your career.
“But always be proud that you made it onto one of the world’s biggest stages during a global pandemic.
“After months of being careful, even when restrictions were lifted, now you’re home, you can have your ‘freedom’ again. Celebrate with your friends and family and lap up all the opportunities you can, because coming home from a Paralympic Games is the time to let your hair down and enjoy yourself.”
The BAC is here to support any athlete struggling post-Games. For independent, confidential support, email firstname.lastname@example.org.