Since the mid-20th century, and parallel with the devaluation of the classical Olympic idea, the classical Olympic amateur status has been modified: Olympians have been permitted to earn money legally via their sport performances. They have been legally defined as employees, and they have become to be regarded as "Olympic professionals".
The Cypriot elite athletes, who joined the Olympic family in 1980, did not follow international trends regarding this special kind of professionalism. Their start in sport also was to be different from the beginning of most professional Olympic athletes’ sporting careers. The objective of this article is to present information on the particular characteristics of Cypriot Olympians’ socialization into sport based on the findings of an empirical research carried out by the author. The investigation was carried out by quantitative (standardized questionnaire) and qualitative (in-depth interviews) methods among Cypriot Olympians, their coaches, and managers. The quantitative data were summarized by Microsoft Excel 2003 program. Qualitative information was analyzed according to the special criteria.
The results deal with the following topics: the athletes’ age at the start and at the specialization, their motivations, their socializing agents, and their parents’ sporting experiences. In the conclusion the impact of the Cypriot sport culture and the ambivalent Cypriot sport politics on the athletes’ early sport socialization is emphasized.
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