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Becoming and being a Masters athlete

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 18:25 authored by Anthea Vreugdenhil, Palmer, C, Casey MainsbridgeCasey Mainsbridge, Nicholas HookwayNicholas Hookway

This research aims to understand the life trajectory of becoming and being a Masters Games athlete and explores how competitive sports participation can be a context for empowering older adults. To do this, physical activity engagement in later life is viewed through an ‘active ageing’ lens, focusing on the enabling factors for mature-age competitive sports participation rather than the deficit-based approach which dominates existing research and policy.

Athletes competing in the 2017 Australian Masters Games were invited to participate in a survey about their experiences, training and motivations for participation in the Games. The survey questionnaire included the 40-item ‘Physical Activity and Leisure Motivations Scale’ (PALMS) and also asked questions about challenges and enablers in becoming and being a Masters athlete. In all, 271 athletes completed the survey and this presentation focuses on the responses from respondents aged 50 years and over (N=163).

The majority of participants were women (62%) with 47% aged between 50-59 years, 39% aged between 60-69 years and 14% aged 70 and over. They competed in a range of team and individual events from dragon boat racing through to athletics. For 47% of respondents, this was their first Masters Games. Using the scores on the PALMS subscales, the most important motivations for competing in Masters sports were physical condition and enjoyment; the least important motivation was the expectations (and advice) of others. There were gender differences, with men rating competition as more important than women (p=0.031), and women rating affiliation and enjoyment as more important than men (p=0.003; p=0.008 respectively). A range of enablers were identified as helpful, with involvement with a local club/association and the fun of participating with others rated most highly.

Findings from this study will help inform how we understand and address the issue of physical activity participation in later life.


Publication title

2018 AAG Conference Oral Presentations - Abstracts, 51st Australian Association of Gerontology Conference




School of Social Sciences


Australian Association of Gerontology

Place of publication

Melbourne, Australia

Event title

51st Australian Association of Gerontology Conference

Event Venue

Melbourne, Australia

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


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