Greg Rutherford calls for unions to help retired athletes after Gail Emms struggle
Greg Rutherford has called on more sports to create athlete unions after a former British Olympic star revealed she was close to breaking point having failed to land a job and sold her belongings on eBay to make ends meet. Gail Emms, who won badminton silver at the 2004 Games, said she felt “ashamed” to admit she was struggling after work began to dry up. Rutherford, who is unable to defend his long jump title at the London World Championships due to injury, has spent an increasing amount of time away from athletics in recent months as he looks to build his profile in the twilight of his career. Gail Emms has struggled after work began to dry up Credit: GETTY IMAGES He reached the latter stages of Strictly Come Dancing last November, has set up an online fitness programme, is trekking across Oman for charity this winter and is providing analysis for Eurosport throughout these World Championships. He said: “I turn 31 this year. I’ve got a young family and my career isn’t going to be going on much longer so you have to start thinking about the future. It’s difficult because there are these periods where you’re massively in the limelight. “I know Gail very well and she was a superstar after winning her Olympic medal. But in many sports – especially Olympic sports – you finish your career and then there is this massive void. It’s not like there’s vast sums of money being thrown around during your career and then afterwards you’ve got to snap back to reality and find work. But you’ve missed huge parts of when most people are learning their trade. The World Athletics Championships in numbers 01:06 “So it is difficult and I think sport needs to do a better job of helping people transition. Maybe something like a pension scheme to help people have time to figure something out once they retire. “Gail is incredibly intelligent, eloquent and gifted, so for her to be in the scenario that she is in, I really feel sorry for her. For some of the people who don’t have her background, they probably find it even more difficult.” UK Athletics have increased the influence of those involved with the creation of a 12-member ‘Athletes’ Commission’, formed to ensure athlete voices are heard at board level. “I really think there should be an athlete union which has the power to influence what happens,” he said. “You have exceptional athletes who have nothing because they’ve given up their life to excel.” Greg Rutherford will provide analysis alongside presenter Jonathan Edwards in Eurosport’s live coverage of the World Championships.
These guys don't play like we do. Badminton at the Olympic level is the fastest racket sport in the world.