Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Craig A. Wrisberg

Committee Members

Jeffrey T. Fairbrother, Leslee A. Fisher, Mark A. Hector, Klaus Blischke


The purpose of the present study was to provide a detailed description of German Olympians’ experience of competing at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. In-depth, open-ended phenomenological interviews were conducted with twelve German athletes who competed in Athens. The athletes represented various sports but in order to keep their identity confidential their names were not disclosed. The interviews, originally in German, were transcribed and served as the primary source for data analysis. In a cross-cultural setting where some of the interviews were translated into English, a method informed by hermeneutic analysis was used to derive a thematic structure of the research participants’ experiences. Four grounds emerged from the analysis of the athletes’ experience: 1) Time, 2) The Preparation, 3) The Olympics, and 4) The Overall Result. Time provided a context for all other aspects of the athletes’ experience of competing in Athens. The athletes first had to prepare for the competition (The Preparation, which included the sub themes of Training and Making the Team), and then subsequently competed in The Olympics. The ground of The Olympics reflected the athletes’ experiences of dealing with Distractions, The Olympic Village, and the fact that The Whole World is Watching. Finally, the athletes obtained a certain result (The Overall Result), which in many ways influenced how they perceived their overall Olympic experience. Three figural themes stood out in the context of the four grounds: 1) The Competitor / Self, 2) Others, and 3) The Competition / Event. Athletes talked about the sub themes of Body, Emotions / Feelings, Staying Focused, and Identity / Personality when discussing the theme The Competitor / Self. Support and The Team were the two sub themes that emerged for the figural theme of Others. When discussing the theme of The Competition / Event, participants talked about The Sport, The Setting / Site, and Opponents. Overall, the findings suggested that while there were considerable individual differences in participants’ experiences most of these athletes lacked systematic mental preparation for the 2004 Athens Olympics and also experienced various forms of organizational stress.

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