World Championship and Olympic Games Experience Influences Future Medal Performance in Track-and-Field Athletes

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Some track-and-field national governing bodies send athletes to World Championship and Olympic Games (WC/OG) to gain experience that may positively impact future success, even though athletes may not be expected to place high or medal. However, it is unclear if this strategy is advantageous for future medal attainment. Purpose: To determine if participation and/or advancement at a track-and-field athlete’s first WC/OG influences the odds of future medaling. Methods: Performances of US track-and-field athletes who made their first WC/OG team during 2000–2013 were tracked through 2016 to stratify athletes into categories. Athletes who medaled on their first team or never made a subsequent team (ie, no experience) were compared with athletes who did not medal on their first team but made subsequent teams (ie, experience). The experience group was further divided into athletes who advanced or did not advance out of the initial round at their first competition for a secondary analysis. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated using logistic regression to measure the association between experience level and medaling. Results: A significant OR was obtained for advanced versus did not advance (OR = 2.29, 95% confidence interval, 1.07–4.89, P = .03), but not for experience versus no experience (OR = 1.04, 95% confidence interval, 0.60–1.78, P = .91) group. Conclusions: Advancing out of the initial round of competition during an athlete’s first WC/OG competition is associated with increased odds of future medaling. National governing bodies should consider this “experience threshold” during team selection processes.

Fulton is with the Dept of Physical Therapy, College of Health Sciences, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, USA. Baranauskas and Chapman are with the Dept of Kinesiology, School of Public Health-Bloomington, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA.

Fulton (timothy.fulton@marquette.edu) is a corresponding author.
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