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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337


STARK, Suzanne; LORENZO, Theresa  and  LANDMAN, Susan. Shaped by place: Environmental influences on the participation of young cyclists from disadvantaged communities in professional cycling. S. Afr. j. occup. ther. [online]. 2016, vol.46, n.2, pp.44-57. ISSN 2310-3833.

OBJECTIVE: The Cycling Club provides opportunities for young cyclists from disadvantaged communities to participate in cycling on a professional level. Little literature exists that explores the potential role of occupational therapy in the field of professional sport. This qualitative study explored the influence that environmental factors had on the experience of participation of professional cyclists from disadvantaged communities. METHOD: A collective case study design was applied using photovoice and unstructured interviews as methods of data generation with three of the professional cyclists. Other sources of data generation included a focus group held with the team and a key informant interview held with the team coach. RESULTS: The findings present themes from each participant's unique story reflecting the environmental influences on their experience of participation in cycling. It also includes themes from the team coach's perspective on the structure of cycling teams and team dynamics DISCUSSION: This section draws on a cross case analysis of the findings which is contextualised through the application of the International Classification of Function's list of environmental factors. Environmental factors discussed are products and technology; the natural environment; appreciating supportive relationships and attitudes and the relevance of services, systems and policies. CONCLUSION: This study offers a fresh perspective from conventional sporting interventions by focussing on the influence of the environment on sporting performance rather than attempting to improve sporting performance. It is evident that the significance of the environment should be considered more carefully by coaching staff as it could ultimately improve performance of cyclists who come from disadvantaged communities. Taking an occupational perspective, this article highlights the potential contribution of occupational therapy in the field of professional cycling.

Keywords : Cycling; environment; International Classification of Function; participation; youth.

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