Athletes Claire's Story I am a former international GB fencer, retiring after the London Olympic Games in 2012. I remember announcing my retirement and feeling completely lost and dejected. When I stopped fencing, I felt like I was no longer an expert at anything and I had no idea that my skills could be transferable into the workplace. I was always professionally really ambitious but I lacked the self-confidence I needed to make that first step and didn’t really know how to move forward. It was big thing to deal with at the time. Personally, when I transitioned to a life beyond sport, I went through different stages of feelings and emotions. At first I felt shock and denial, then anger, then a period where I felt very low and finally after having met the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and accessed tailored transitional support, I felt acceptance and I was ready to move on and do something meaningful, something that would make me happy. They say it takes about 2 years for an elite athlete to transition in their life after sport, but it took me an Olympic cycle – a full four years. I was lucky enough to meet the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust where I started off delivering as an athlete mentor and then I was asked to work in house, which was when I started to work my way up the organisation to the role that I am in now as Athlete Manager. My initial impressions of the Trust were brilliant. They were the first organisation to welcome me with open arms, irrespective of whether I had won an Olympic medal or not. When I first met the Trust I was hoping to find some direction, I remember doing a lot of GiveBack - working on sessions with young people - when I first joined the Trust and that really helped. Firstly, it helped fill the hours in my day, giving me the structure I really wanted, and secondly, mentoring young people facing disadvantage made me realise that my skills were transferrable and that I could be successful in my life after sport. I also accessed a business coach via the Trust as I had a business idea I wanted to explore. I had lots of conflicting thoughts and feelings about what I wanted to do next and this coach really helped me to focus on what was right for me moving forward. I was also lucky enough to do a performance coaching diploma with the Coaching Academy, something that I have benefited from in my current role at the Trust and will put me in good stead for the future. Finally, I made sure that I attended all the training that was on offer and was able to work on my personal social and emotional development which helped me to take responsibility for my own levels of personal and social capital. I have never felt as alive as I do today The very first programme that I worked on was Sport for Change, a programme that supports homeless young people. This experience had a huge positive impact on me and I remember speaking to a young girl after I had delivered my first fencing session to the group. I asked her if she was ok and she replied: ‘I have never felt as alive as I do today’. I will never forget her words and it made me realise that by supporting others, I too had found something that would make me feel as alive as I did when I was fencing at an elite level. It was a special moment. Sport has taught me resilience and confidence. I have had to deal with plenty of setbacks throughout my sporting career and this made me a tougher, more well-rounded person. I have also learned a great deal from the young people that I have mentored over the years. They reminded me how strong a person can be and gave me the energy and motivation that I needed to transition in my life beyond sport. Life Beyond Sport I was the Athlete Manager at the Trust and and during that time I gained so much valuable experience. I have spent time on my personal social and emotional development and I have developed strategic skills at senior management level. I know now that I can be happy and fulfilled in my life after sport and I am much clearer on the direction I would like to go moving forward. The Trust has changed my life for the better, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support. I am now a qualified Performance Life Coach and I work as an Associate for Sport and Beyond, a training and consultancy company. We work across sport, business and education, with a focus on developing people and teams to drive high performance. My passion is about developing others and helping others to achieve their potential. I am also a Trustee for the Women’s Sports Trust, a charity aimed at making women’s sport more viable, visible and unstoppable. I am dedicated to progressing women in sport and ensuring that female athletes step into leadership roles in their lives after sport.