AIS chaplain Reverend Peter Nelson often speaks of his 1996 Atlanta Olympic Chaplaincy where the Religious Services Centre was open 24/7 during those Games. Many athletes and coaches came to the Religious Centre to sit quietly and chat with the one of two chaplains on duty in those wee small hours about their futures.
These athletes and coaches came from a wide cross section of the nations, from the first world through to the third world, as many had been tireless in their focus on the Olympics, but had not given the same attention to what they might return home to.
Well-Being Australia chairman Dr Mark Tronson established 'Basil Sellers House' in 1992 an athletes and coach respite facility in Moruya on the New South Wales south coast, a two hour drive to the coast from the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
AIS athletes and coaches became regular guests of the respite facility and it became more pronounced after each Olympic and Commonwealth Games where they took time out to reflect on their future directions.
In 2006 'Basil Sellers Tweed' was opened for those AIS athletes based in south east Queensland and in a third respite facility was opened in 2011 on the Whitsundays mainland, 'Basil Sellers Laguna Quays Respite'.
Post Olympic and Commonwealth Games
Mark Tronson says that it's not only post Olympics and Commonwealth Games do athletes and coaches reflect on their futures.
Serious injuries also pose such opportunities to reflect. Professional sport and injury, even to the initiated, go hand in glove. The dreams and aspirations of a young athlete can come crashing down with a career breaking injury. Read any newspaper sports pages and you'll see articles about this or that athlete being injured and out for a period of time in recovery.
Sometimes injuries come from the most unexpected situations. A case in point was South African cricketer Mark Boucher when playing County Cricket in England in his wicket keeping position. The ball hit the bails, one of which flew into his eye. It now appears he may be forced into early retirement. (www.watoday.com.au)
Mark Tronson served as the Australian Cricket team Chaplain for 17 years to 2000 and in 2001 established Life After Cricket and in 2007 Cricket Family Respite. The Retired Australian Cricketers Bi-Annual Newsletter published 30 November and 30 March each year focuses in on cricketer respite.
Every elite sporting identity faces these same issues after major sporting occasions and for some, life has been planned out and there is little major upheaval. Stephen Taylor Australia's spin bowler of the late 1980' early 90's and then a national selector was a farmer and returned to farming.
But the same cannot be said for most athletes who face major decision and taking a little respite allows time for reflection and direction. An updated respite flyer was delivered to the AIS earlier this month.
Mark Tronson and Peter Nelson noted, as they say, “We're on it”.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html