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Stories of athletes trying to find new meaning in life after retiring from elite-level sports are serving as an inspiration for those who think they may be too old to switch paths.

Takamasa Abiko, a 42-year-old late bloomer who just ended a three-year soccer career, and Tsuyoshi Shinjo, a 48-year-old who made an unexpected bid to play pro baseball again after retiring in 2006, are shining examples of how to handle a midlife career crisis gracefully.

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