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Bik C. Chow

The purpose of the research was to study the transitional experiences of elite female athletes who are going through the process of athletic retirement. Using a life history approach, six former and six current athletes in Hong Kong were interviewed. Semi-structured interviews were utilized based on the Schlossberg’s (1981, 1984) transition model. Data were analyzed using typology and constant comparison methods. Diversity and commonality in the experiences of women withdrawing from elite sports competition were found. The life history approach was effective in illustrating the ways in which Hong Kong female athletes feel and think about career end, with a transition from competition to retirement evident as part of career passing. Content analysis of interviews revealed several salient themes related to sports retirement. Key distinctions across projected and experienced retirement were associated with a woman’s being an immigrant athlete, entering early into sport, and pursuing an education. Athlete status also affected transition to retirement and lifestyle after an elite sports career.