PARALYMPIAN John Robertson has spoken of the “culture shock” he faced after retiring from sailing last august.

Robertson, who competed alongside Steven Thomas and Hannah Stodel in the Sonar events, bowed out of the sport after a hectic summer which saw them win gold in the Garda Trentino Olympic week, silver in the world championships and then finish ninth in the Paralympics in Rio, and Robertson spoke of his fond memories of the summer.

He said: “It was fantastic, we’d trained really hard up until the end of the year before and into 2016 and we’d done pretty well at all the events we’d been to.

“To get a medal in Italy at the Garda, and then a medal at the world championships was pretty good going so we were really chuffed with that.

“Going to the Paralympic games at any time is just an amazing honour and a thrill, it’s fantastic. We’d set our stall out by doing well at the other events throughout the year and we arrived in Rio in pretty good form.

“Unfortunately we didn’t have a brilliant start on the first day but it’s not the place for your head to go down and give up, you just keep plugging away and that’s what we did throughout the week which gave us some great days where we came first so we thought we were back in the competition.

“The next day we dropped from being in a medal position to further down the rankings, so you could say it was a mixed time for us results-wise, but if our results had been better on the first day and the last we could well have been in the medals.”

After the Paralympics had finished, and with news of cuts to the sports funding, Robertson then chose to take a step back from competitive sailing, relocating away from Weymouth and Portland to move back to his native Sunderland.

He said: “I came back home to the north-east and I’ve just been trying to get my life in order. We’ve retired as a team and now it’s just about getting my life in order, whatever that is!

“It’s nice to catch up with friends and family who you barely see throughout the year and do some organising so I can plan ahead for this year, whether that’s moving into coaching and sailing, coaching and disability sports or setting up my own business.

“It’s just doing a full reset because I’ve been doing this for 20 years. So it’s a bit of a life change but I feel it was my time to step down from fulltime sport and give something back to the young people wanting to get involved in the sport.

“It’s a big culture shock, like in any job you become institutionalised. We get physio, we get doctors looking after us, we get technical people looking after everything and then to come home and just be with your friends and family, it can be pretty tough. It takes a while to get used to.

“What people would call normal, was just not normal for us.”

But with a new chapter beginning for Robertson, he still has positive words for anybody interested in getting involved.

“It might be cold and wet but sport is a fantastic thing. Don’t think too hard and just enjoy the sailing. It’s a fun outdoor sport and you just have to enjoy it.”