PhD Aurélia Pankowiak

Drivers of Paralympic Excellence: Developing a National Elite Sport Policy Framework to Assess Factors Influencing Paralympic Success

AURÉLIE PANKOWIAK, Victoria University (PhD candidate)

Promotors: Prof. Hans Westerbeek, Dr. Camilla Brockett, Prof. dr. Veerle De Bosscher

April 2015 – April 2018

Competitiveness at the Paralympic Games is increasing and the elite profile of para-sport and athletes with a disability is growing rapidly. As a result, a number of nations are starting to strategically invest in elite para-sport to increase the country’s chances for Paralympic success. However, little is known about the characteristics of national elite sport policies that can specifically and effectively optimise the development of talented para-sport athletes. In addition, the organisation of para-sport at the national level is fragmented and contextual barriers provide challenges for athletes with a disability to access international competitions. The aim of this project is to develop, validate and empirically test a national framework of elite sport policy factors important for a country’s Paralympic success. Guided by the realist evaluation framework, key related contextual elements that influence the effectiveness of these policies will also be explored. This PhD will follow an inclusive, exploratory mixed-methods research design using the ‘Sport Policy factors Leading to International Sporting Success’ (SPLISS) model as a reference. The study will contribute to theoretical understanding of national elite sport policy effectiveness in the Paralympic domain and the research outcomes will inform elite (para-) sport decision makers.