‘I wouldn't do anything differently ... Although I won't let my child go in that direction’

Successful Hungarian Olympians’ understandings and experiences at the close of elite sport careers





elite athletes, identity, individual sustainability, phenomenology, sport


Whilst the relationship between sport-related success and its effect on the identity of athletes has been acknowledged, less attention has been paid to understanding this relationship from the perspective of the individual. Elite sport follows the logic of individualism, competitiveness, and productivity, while elite athlete performance is depicted as being a remedy for society’s ills by empowering control over health and serving as a good example for future generations. This dualism is reflected in the viewpoints of elite athletes: in their experiences, reflections, and memories. The aim of this paper is to formally examine through Hungarian elite athletes’ experiences how elite sport is related to components of the athletic identity and their potential impact on individual sustainability. Results show (1) how essential the role of coaching is in elite athletes’ careers, (2) how sport is seen as a protective shield, indicating the importance of life-long career planning, and (3) that there is cognitive dissonance regarding the identity of elite athletes.


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Author Biography

Attila Szathmári, Corvinus University of Budapest

Assistant Lecturer


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How to Cite

Szathmári, A. (2021). ‘I wouldn’t do anything differently . Although I won’t let my child go in that direction’: Successful Hungarian Olympians’ understandings and experiences at the close of elite sport careers. Vezetéstudomány / Budapest Management Review, 52(5), 68–78. https://doi.org/10.14267/VEZTUD.2021.05.06