Journeys of Portugese athletes to sporting success: the peaks and troughs

A Pereira, MC Pinheiro, L Carvalhino, P Sequeira, R Resende, Katie/K Liston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This research examined the experiences of eight Portuguese (former) elite athletes from a social scientificperspective. In so doing it attempted to move away from the tentacles of achievement sport and, in particular, theperformance efficiency model that dominates elite sport. Rather, it focused on the subjective and qualitativeexperiences of sportspeople themselves and gave them a forum to reflect upon the primary socializing agentsthat played a key role in their sporting success, and on the peaks and troughs on their journeys to sportingsuccess, nationally and internationally. The research design included semi-structured interviews with athletesthat excelled in athletics, handball, gymnastics, korfball and swimming. All eight had achieved outstandingresults nationally and internationally. A qualitative approach was adopted for data collection and analysis.Giving voice to the former athletes themselves revealed much about: the primary socializing agents for sport intheir lives, as young, teenage and adult athletes; those role models and mentors that influenced their initial andongoing involvement and specialization in sport, these being the family (usually parents), physical educationteachers and peers; and, finally, the peaks and troughs in their careers which usually hinged around sportingsuccess or defeat, failure to achieve expected results, and the onset and impact of injury. Taken together, thesefindings reverberate with those of other researchers beyond the Lusophone world. They also indicate theemergence and development of a sports ethic in Portugal despite the comparatively late entry of that country into the global sporting arms race.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-406
JournalJournal of Physical Education and Sport
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Jun 2016

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  • sports ethic
  • elite sport
  • critical moments
  • Portugal
  • qualitative research


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