“You’ve got to appreciate what you have actually done rather than thinking ‘I didn’t get to do this, I didn’t get to do that,’ ” believes Kelly Massey.
The Olympic, European and Commonwealth medallist retired from competitive athletics two years ago, announcing her decision with a tear-jerking montage of some of her best memories on social media.
Reflecting on the process of choosing when to move on in the England Athletics podcast, she says “I didn’t know what to do so I carried on training as normal.
“I trained on my own, I didn’t go back with my group. I felt like I needed a bit of headspace. I knew I was going to retire but I didn’t want to say it yet. I wasn’t ready to.
Athletes strive for bigger and better. We reach a goal and it's always "what's next?" Little time is spent on enjoying and appreciating. My birthday present to myself is to hang up the comp spikes, sit back and enjoy everything I have achieved.#retire #overandout #ontothenext pic.twitter.com/mEi52dJ3sl
— Kelly Massey OLY (@kellymassey400) January 11, 2018
“You always know its going to happen but you almost don’t want it too as well. It definitely was the right time but you’re still going to have those regrets.
“But I think after I had done the video people were like ‘oh wow, you’ve had such a good career’ and I was like ‘yeah, I have actually,’ I’ve done some things that even people who were faster than me haven’t got to do.”
There is a question of whether the Commonwealth 400 metres finalist has actually retired, given that she turned out for Sale Harriers at a UK Women’s Athletics League meeting in Sheffield last year. “I did more events than anybody else in that team that day, ” she laughs!
Kelly, 35, says she enjoys maintaining her fitness without the pressure of competing, while getting stuck into other hobbies such as baking and dancing, alongside and conducting a study on retirement from elite sport at Liverpool John Moores University.
She was also back in Sheffield this month supporting UK Anti-Doping at the England Athletics Under-20, Under-17 and Under-15 Indoor Championships and has been dipping her toe in the coaching pond by mentoring young athletes.
Naturally, the advice she gives involves her own experience of being a ‘late bloomer’ who reached the top level later in her career. “It’s a long game. I never made an English Schools semi-final, I never went to an Age Group Champs so it’s like ‘do you want little, quick successes now, or do you want (successes) when it really matters?’ ”