A thesis for track and field

by Maxime_Walt

Lausanne and Strasbourg

Why do athletes run so fast? With your support, I want to bring a new look at the performance of top athletes by quantifying the impact of their careers.

CHF 20’230

101% of CHF 20’000

101 %
This is how it worksä

The «all or nothing» principle applies: The project only receives the funds if the funding target is reached or exceeded.

65 backers

Successfully concluded on 27/9/2021

Support an innovative and ambitious PhD project entitled: «The careers of Swiss and French middle-distance runners: a statistical and ethnographic study of the impact on performance». Passionate about athletics and a researcher in sports science, I am starting a PhD at the Universities of Lausanne and Strasbourg. Unfortunately, I am not financed by these institutions to carry out this project, that is why I am calling on you! My thesis will help Swiss middle-distance running to reach the top by improving the understanding of sports performance.

The Swiss performances at the Tokyo Olympics gave us a lot of emotions. The impacts and benefits of the realization of my project will make such moments possible again by :

  1. Improving the understanding of the determinants of athletic performance;
  2. Preventing the precarious living conditions of athletes: 2.1. How to improve these living conditions? It is often assumed that top athletes are plentifully paid for their performances. However, according to the SPLISS-CH 2011 study, more than 50% of the athletes who participated in the Summer Olympics for Switzerland have an annual income lower than CHF 14’000 (Kempf et al., 2014). 2.2. How can we help young talents to become successful elite athletes? During my master’s thesis, I was able to analyze the careers of Swiss middle-distance runners and observed that on average they lasted no more than two years. These short careers are worrying for the development of athletic performance in Switzerland.
  3. Developing knowledge about athletic careers; 3.1. Is there, from a statistical point of view, a more efficient career pattern? The use of statistical algorithms will allow the classification of careers into several groups and the identification of the most promising career patterns. 3.2. What effect do clubs have on performance? How can they be helped to create an environment conducive to competitive sport?
  4. Optimizing the processes of talent detection and training.

To answer these questions, I will make a comparison between Switzerland and France using a two-step methodology: first statistical, then by fieldwork to analyzing the training conditions of athletes.

A new perspective on the determinants of performance in middle-distance running

Traditionally, physiologists handle the question of middle-distance running performances (800m, 1’500m, 3’000m, 3’000m steeplechase, 5’000m, and 10’000m on the track) who underline the importance of physical factors in performance. The influence of these factors is not debatable, but I am certain that the analysis of careers will strengthen the understanding of athletic performance.

Your contribution will fund my field investigations

A Ph.D. is a marathon: about 5 years for me. As I am not financed, the purpose of this crowdfunding is to cover the costs associated with the research. Your precious support will finance the totality of the expenses associated with the fieldwork in Switzerland and in France:

  • Travel: car, train, plane
  • Accommodation and food on site
  • Equipment for the recording of the interviews