Well this day had to come eventually, I didn't particularly want it to, but I knew it would. As of the 1st of July I can no longer call myself a professional triathlete.
What makes a person a professional triathlete is a favourite topic of complaint on triathlon forums around the globe. Usually for most people the argument focuses on whether a person is good enough to make a living from the sport. That is quite a valid argument while at the same time being largely irrelevant in a sport like triathlon which contains little money for most competitors.
Regardless of that discussion though, technically what makes a triathlete professional or not is whether they hold a professional racing license. In Australia this is a license that is granted by Triathlon Australia on application. If your application is good enough you get your license, simple as that. Once you have your pro license it is yours, you never have to re qualify, it is yours for as long as you pay the annual membership fee (which is about $500).
Today I gave mine up.
I would by lying if I said it was an easy decision, it really, really wasn't, I struggled to click that final button. Deep down I couldn't help but think of all the time and effort that went into getting that license and also the knowledge that once I let it go I was never going to get it back again. I know plenty of athletes who pay their $500 year in and year out with no real plans of racing, but maintaining that pro license just in case they decide that they do want to race again. I was sorely tempted. When I thought about it though my reluctance to give it up wasn't because of some serious consideration about racing again, but really because of my own pride. I have been proud of that bit of paper and I didn't want to let it go.
Let it go I did though.
In the end I knew that giving up the license was something that was always going to have to happen. After the events of the last few months I can't seriously consider going back to proper training and racing. The risks are simply too great. My wife wouldn't stand it and I wouldn't ask her too. If racing at the pointy end again isn't a serious consideration then the question has to be asked, what is the point of having the license? Really the answer is, there isn't a point. Hence my decision to let it go.
It isn't all sad eyes and grey days though,; there is actually an upside to relinquishing my pro license. Whilst I can't seriously consider racing properly again, I do sort of like the idea of doing the odd triathlon for fun. Just getting out and having a roll around. While I have a pro license I can't actually do that. When you have a pro license, you have to race pro, you don't have a choice. Now that I don't have a pro license I have the choice of returning to the age group ranks and having a fun day out if I want to. I am not sure whether I will or not, but I really like the idea of having that option.
It was hard to let it go and I was very sad to do so, but it has been one hell of a ride. I am looking forward to seeing what the next part of the ride is like.