At present, very few South African athletes who compete at a junior level and
perform well make a successful transition to senior athletics. Far too many
discontinue their participation when transitioning to senior track and field
athletics to the detriment of our country’s athletics. This study provides
insights into the transitional challenges that South African track and field
athletes face and highlights the effects of various factors on transition.
The available literature suggests that there are multiple factors, which cause
an unsuccessful transition. Furthermore, the effectiveness of support systems
that are meant to assist athletes in overcoming these challenges is
A qualitative research design, which employed narrative interviews with 12
South African athletes who had competed internationally as junior athletes,
was used in the study. The results revealed that support systems, coaches,
training plans, injuries and qualification standards are the main challenges
that South African athletes face during their transition to senior level athletics.
Vast improvements in communication and decisive commitments need to be
made in the existing support structures to help young athletes. Furthermore,
there is disparity between the challenges for which structures provide support
and the actual challenges athletes in South Africa encounter.