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Last Updated: Monday, 25 August, 2003, 22:27 GMT 23:27 UK
Edwards' next big leap

By Tom Fordyce
BBC Sport at the Stade de France

And so, with a shake of the head, Jonathan Edwards' career as a professional athlete came to an end.

Edwards completes his last-ever competitive leap in Paris
Edwards will have to adjust to life after athletics
As of 8.50pm Paris time on Monday, the next chapter of his life began.

But how will he cope after 15 years as a professional athlete?

What will it be like waking up in the morning with no training to do, no injuries to worry about and no championships to focus on?

One man who knows exactly how that feels is Colin Jackson, for so long Edwards' Great Britain team-mate.

When Jackson retired after the World Indoors last March, he had been competing since the late 1980s, had world, European and Commonwealth titles in the bag and was the current world record holder - just the same as Edwards.

"There's obviously sadness, because you're leaving a sport you enjoy doing," Jackson told this website.

"You think, oh - that's the end. But that soon passes. Like with everything, time heals.

When you make the decision of your own free will, like Jonathan and me, you can handle it
Colin Jackson

"In some ways, you don't really feel like you've retired. It's just that your focus has changed. That's the only thing that is different.

"When you make the decision of your own free will, like Jonathan and me, you can handle it.

"When it's sudden, like when injury ends your career, that's very different - you haven't finished on your own terms."

Edwards announced his retirement last Thursday, explaining that he felt his recent injury at Crystal Palace and subsequent rapid comeback were a sign from God that the moment was right to quit.

He said that he felt in good enough shape to compete at the Athens Olympics next summer, but that the desire was no longer there.

Jackson can understand his thinking.

"If I trained for the 110m hurdles, I'd still be in the world's top 10, comfortably," he says.

Colin Jackson salutes the crowd after his last-ever competitive appearance
Jackson bowed out on a high
"But I didn't want to train like that, so I stepped away."

Successful sportsmen are almost always highly competitive individuals. They need to be.

Without the overwhelming desire to be the best at what they do, they would never reach the top.

But Jackson says those competitive urges can fade with age. The manner of Edwards' departure on Monday night suggests as much.

"If I still had the urge to compete, I'd still be running," said Jackson.

"None of the things I do now are really competitive.

"I was happy with what I had done. That's why you don't feel jealous watching the action from the stands. I had decided to go."

And what of the empty time in the day, that for so long was taken up with training?

"Jonathan won't be sitting around at home wondering what to do with his life," says Jackson.

"He has a lot of things in the pipeline.

"As for going to the gym, I'm not going at the moment because I'm away from home.

"When I'm home I'll go. I like training in the gym. But I have no interest at all in doing anything on the track, and I suspect Jonathan will be the same."

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