Making the Podium: Examining the Factors Behind Olympic Resilience

Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Project

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Jamie Shapiro

First Committee Member

Ian Palombo


Elite athletes, Olympic athletes, mental skills



The purpose of this study was to gain an in-depth understanding of the factors that allowed athletes to successfully medal at the Olympic Games after a previous non-medaling performance. The study consisted of nine athletes who did not medal in their first Olympic Games but medaled at subsequent Games with a mean of 5.1 years between non-medaling and medaling performances. The participants engaged in semi-structured interviews that lasted approximately 60 minutes. Six female and three male athletes were interviewed. Inductive thematic analysis (Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Thomas, 2006) was used to analyze the data and resulted in the following four main themes: psychological factors, physical factors, social factors, and organizational factors. Recommendations for how to support athletes who return from the Olympic Games without a medal so that he or she is able to medal at subsequent Olympic Games are provided. Future research should explore the relationships between these factors, explore whether some factors are more influential than others, and gain the perspective of the athletes’ coaches.


Copyright is held by the authors. Permanently suppressed.


33 pages

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