- Written by Catherine Rees
Ross Wilson is the World and Commonwealth Paralympic Table Tennis Champion. He’s won bronze medals at the Tokyo 2020, Rio 2016, and London 2012 Paralympic Games, and in 2018 won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. In October 2018 he became World Champion after beating the double Paralympic champion from China in the final.
A fulltime athlete in the prime of his sporting career, 26-year-old Ross recently attended Switch The Play’s ‘Life Beyond Sport’ Bootcamp to help gain some clarity about his future after his professional sporting career.
“When thinking about life after sport, all athletes are different. Some go to university alongside their training, but then a lot of athletes, like me, haven’t done that. I initially started studying alongside my training but realised it wasn’t for me. I immerse myself in my sport and struggle to focus on anything else.
“For a long time, I felt lost when I thought about life after sport. I lived and breathed table tennis and didn’t know what else was out there. I doubted what I’d learned as an athlete and if that was enough. I also doubted if I had the skills to do anything else.
“It can be stressful thinking about it because when you’re focussed on your sport, it’s all you want to do. I’m incredibly grateful that I am funded as a fulltime athlete. But you never know what’s around the corner. You might lose that funding and you need to have a plan going forward.
I think it’s good for people’s mental health to have a plan and understand that there are things outside of sport that they’re capable of doing.
“When you’re a sportsperson you can get caught up in believing that you are your sport. But the bootcamp showed me that I’m so much more than that and there’s lots to be excited about for the future too. It made me realise that I already have all the skills I need. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I now feel like I can continue concentrating on my sport because I know the direction I want to take.
“I got to speak to lots of different athletes at the bootcamp and it made me realise that I am good enough, and I’m capable of reaching goals outside of my sport when I finish.
Before [Switch the Play's Life Beyond Sport Bootcamp] I was nervous about life after sport, but now I’m excited about what’s next for me.
“One of my main goals is to do lots of networking. I made some great connections with people at the bootcamp who’ve helped me with my CV and explore further into my transferable skills. I’ve also spoken to my performance lifestyle advisor to ask her how she got into her job - it’s definitely something I’m interested in doing in the future. To anyone just starting out in their sporting career, I’d recommend that you start with the end goal in mind and enjoy the process!”