Early Success is not a Prerequisite for Success at the Adult Age in Spanish Sprinters
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Sports Training Laboratory, Faculty of Sports Sciences, University of Castilla La Mancha, Toledo, Spain
Submission date: 2023-01-24
Acceptance date: 2023-04-12
Online publication date: 2023-07-06
Corresponding author
Aaron Agudo-Ortega   

Sports Training Laboratory, Faculty of Sports Sciences, University of Castilla La Mancha, Av. Carlos III, 45007, Toledo, Spain
Journal of Human Kinetics 2023;89:139–148
The aim of the study was to describe the relationship between success in junior and senior categories in sprint events. An observational and longitudinal analysis was carried out using rankings of the Royal Spanish Athletics Federation database. We analysed 547 sprinters (238 women and 309 men) from their U14 to senior stage who ranked in top-20 on at least one occasion during the period 2004 to 2021. The first entry in top-20 occurred mostly in U14 (44.4%, 243), and the frequency was progressively lower: 26.7% (146) in U16; 20.8% (114) in U18; 5.1% (28) in U20; 2% (11) in U23; and 0.9% (5) in the senior category. A similar tendency was observed in male and female athletes. Only 3.8% (9) of top-20 U14 athletes reached the senior elite stage, increasing this percentage in subsequent categories: 7.4% (15) in U16; 10.6% (24) in U18; 20.9% (32) in U20, and 31.4% (32) from U23 to the senior category. Data from female athletes showed higher maintenance of top-20 status from early categories to senior age. We conclude that even though the first entry into the national top-20 in sprint events occurs early in most cases, success in these initial stages is not a prerequisite for reaching top-20 positions in the senior category.
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