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Abstract

High-performance sport has been the subject of controversy and scandal, coming under heavy scrutiny within the broad issue of “Duty of Care” in terms of the welfare and holistic development of athletes. The United Kingdom has many different schemes and mechanisms that are available to athletes to support them in their development on their athlete journey. However, there is a lack of research exploring whether these schemes and mechanisms fulfill athlete needs and facilitate athlete development. Utilizing Charmaz’s constructivist grounded theory method, twelve full-time, high-performance Judoka (Judo athletes) were intensively interviewed, exploring the experience of their journey as an athlete. Three emergent categories: Development, Support and Environment revealed distinct areas the athletes experienced on their journeys. The three categories interlink and have the topic of athlete education and athlete learning interwoven among them. A pertinent finding was the lack of structured education that athletes received on their own development. Further research is needed to clearly understand what athletes need in this area to ensure that their wellbeing and welfare is at the forefront of athlete development and not just medal success.

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