What doesn’t kill me ... : adversity-related experiences are vital in the development of superior Olympic performance

Sarkar, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-8338-8500, Fletcher, D. and Brown, D.J., 2015. What doesn’t kill me ... : adversity-related experiences are vital in the development of superior Olympic performance. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 18 (4), pp. 475-479. ISSN 1440-2440


Download (281kB) | Preview


Objectives: Recent research suggests that experiencing some adversity can have beneficial outcomes for human growth and development. The purpose of this paper was to explore the adversities that the world’s best athletes encounter and the perceived role that these experiences play in their psychological and performance development.
Design: A qualitative design was employed because detailed information of rich quality was required to better understand adversity-related experiences in the world’s best athletes.
Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 Olympic gold medalists from a variety of sports. Inductive thematic analysis was used to analyze the data.
Results: The findings indicate that the participants encountered a range of sport- and non-sport adversities that they considered were essential for winning their gold medals, including repeated non-selection, significant sporting failure, serious injury, political unrest, and the death of a family member. The participants described the role that these experiences played in their psychological and performance development, specifically focusing on their resultant trauma, motivation, and learning.
Conclusions: Adversity-related experiences were deemed to be vital in the psychological and performance development of Olympic champions. In the future, researchers should conduct more in-depth comparative studies of Olympic athletes’ adversity- and growth-related experiences, and draw on existing and alternative theoretical explanations of the growth-performance relationship. For professional practitioners, adversity-related experiences offer potential developmental opportunities if they are carefully and purposely harnessed.

Item Type: Journal article
Alternative Title: Adversity and superior Olympic performance
Publication Title: Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Creators: Sarkar, M., Fletcher, D. and Brown, D.J.
Publisher: Elsevier for Sports Medicine Australia
Place of Publication: Australia
Date: 2015
Volume: 18
Number: 4
ISSN: 1440-2440
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:15
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 13:23
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10001

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year