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Werner F. Helsen, Nikola Medic, Janet L. Starkes and Andrew M. Williams

Inequalities in relative age distribution have previously been demonstrated to influence participation and performance achievements in Masters athletes. The purpose of the present study was to examine the participation- and performance-related constituent year effect among Masters athletes (N = 2,474) from the European Masters Track and Field Championships across subdisciplines and age. The results indicated that a participation-related constituent year effect was observed. The likelihood of participation was significantly higher for athletes in their first year of any 5-year age category (χ2 = 149.8, p < .001) and decreased significantly when they were in the fourth or fifth year. The results also indicated a performance-related constituent year effect. Masters athletes in their first year won significantly more medals than expected based on observed participation rate (χ2 = 23.39, p < .001). We compare our results with the existing literature and discuss potential mechanisms for this constituent year effect.

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Bradley W. Young, Nikola Medic, Patricia L. Weir and Janet L. Starkes

Researchers have contended that patterns of age-related decline are not necessarily due to age, but rather to disuse, or declining practice (Bortz, 1982; Ericsson, 2000; Maharam, Bauman, Kalman, Skolnik, & Perle, 1999). A regression approach was used to examine age and training variables as predictors of 10-km running performance between 40 and 59 years of age. A sample of 30 Masters runners (M age = 50.1 years, M 10-km time = 39:19) reported data for ongoing training, cumulative running in the past 5 years, and cumulative running earlier in a career. In Analysis 1, ongoing training variables explained more variance in performance than age alone, and reduced the unique variance attributable to age in a combined model. In Analysis 2, findings were replicated using past cumulative running variables and age; running in the past 5 years explained more unique variance than age alone. Discussion focuses on how findings relate to the selective maintenance account (Krampe & Ericsson, 1996), how various aspects of training help to preserve performance in aging populations, and recommendations for future research.