By Chuck Norris
I was 24 years old when I entered my first karate tournament. By the time I retired from active competition in 1974 as the undefeated six-time World Professional Middleweight Karate Champion, I was 34. According to my Winter Olympic metrics, that would make me twice the age of current American snowboarding champion Chloe Kim, the youngest female gold medalist at a Winter Games. I would also be twice the age of Red Gerard, who is also 17 and of the first athletes born after Jan. 1, 2000 to win Winter Olympics gold.
According to data compiled a couple of years ago, athletes start to see physical declines at age 26. For swimmers that age is 21. For setting world records in a given athletic discipline, the mean age is 26.1.
That makes 35-year-old Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway’s best-loved and most successful winter athlete, practically ancient. He made history at the Games by becoming the oldest alpine skier to win Olympic gold in the downhill.
For many of those over-30 athletes calling the 2018 Winter Olympics as their last hurrah, that first step away from sports can be the most difficult one. While some will ease into retirement, others will leave their days of rigorous training and the pressure of competition highly susceptible to depression.
Many experts believe biology will be a factor. Serotonin is the body’s natural mood stabilizer. Researchers believe that an imbalance in serotonin levels can influence mood in a way that leads to depression. Athletes are exposed to regular surging doses of serotonin throughout their careers. When suddenly decreased or stopped, it upsets the chemistry of the body and bouts of depression can be triggered.
On its website, the International Olympic Committee’s Athlete Career Program cautions athletes on what are the biggest challenges athletes face when they retire. They include: the Click to see the original article