The emotional story of Maria Do Carmo and how she was able to coincide her professional sporting career and her professional working career. She is a one of Sporting Clube de Portugal’s greatest assets, both for her athletic triumphs and her professional competencies, especially within the multi sport club!
Everything started when I was between 13/14 years old. I was fortunate to meet Professor Rui Oliveira. He was an athletics coach and my physical education teacher at the preparatory school. At that time, I was very young and I stood out in the cross-country trials, jump in lengths and quick tests.
At 16 years old I had the same teacher and, after much insistence, I have decided to accept the challenge to join me at a sports club. I confess that athletics was not the sport of my dreams, but over time it became my greatest passion. I have many titles and national records, but the highest point of my sports career was undoubtedly the participation in the 2008 Olympic Games (Beijing).
However, it was not all roses and sweetness. It was a journey with some difficulties because it was not easy to reconcile studies with my sports career. I was forced to postpone my academic career, then I have suffered an Achilles tendon injury that prevented me from attending to the 2000 Olympic Games (Sidney) and in 2004 I was 3 centimetres below the minimum to attend the Olympic Games in Athens.
The turning point was undoubtedly the invitation of Professor Moniz Pereira (2000) to join the Sporting Clube de Portugal Athletics team. In 2007 I had the opportunity to coordinate the Athletics sector, accumulating functions with my athletic career, and from there everything went in sport and professional level. In 2008 I realized my great dream of being present at the Beijing Olympic Games and at this moment I am integrating the staff of Sporting Clube de Portugal in the Institutional Relations Department, and I am always looking for new challenges for my training. I have a degree in psychology with a postgraduate degree in sports management.
Interview to Joana Almeida, Sporting Foundation.
Who was Maria do Carmo to you?
Maria do Carmo is a very inspiring woman, she always has a smile big on her face, no matter how hard life is. She is super focused and determined, and she always fights for what she believes and she has a truly generous heart.
What were the traits that you admired most in her?
She is sincere and honest, but what I admire the most is the fact that her joy is contagious, everyone feels automatically happy and joyful around her.
In your opinion, what are the major difficulties that athletes face when they retire from their sport careers?
Athletes should start planning their life after sports while they still athletes. We think that the major difficulties are psychological. It cannot be easy to accept that your career will end someday and you will have another life after sports – and your sport glory days as an athlete will not last forever – which mean that at some point you will stop doing exclusively what you love (at least in the way you know so far), and need to find a different passion or adapt it to a different life style.
What do you think society could do to facilitate the reintegration of athletes?
We believe that for now is important to continue promoting the Dual Career, as well as their sports clubs and national sport committees should provide social, psychological and vocational support to their athletes.