ABSTRACT

Fact note: The United Kingdom (UK), which includes the islands of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is located in Western Europe between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea and covers 243,610 km 2 . The total population is 63 million, white British (85 per cent) is the majority ethnic group, the of cial language is English, and the dominant religion is Christianity. The Republic of Ireland is located to the west of Great Britain, covering 70,273 km 2 . Its total population is 4.7 million, the majority of the population (87 per cent) is Irish, English is the of cial language, and Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion. Sport: The elite sport context in the UK can be divided into professional and Olympic sports. Football, rugby and cricket are the three major professional sports, but professional athletes represent the minority of elite participants, with the majority of full-time elite athletes in the UK being amateur or Olympic competitors. The British Olympic Association and UK Sport are the two major National Governing Bodies (NGBs) in the UK. The UK has hosted three Olympics (1908, 1948 and 2012), which were all held in London. The elite sport context in the Republic of Ireland is similar to the UK, including a mixture of professional and amateur sports. In the Republic of Ireland, Gaelic Games, including Gaelic football and hurling, are the most popular sports (Delaney & Fahey, 2005). Compared with the UK, there is a smaller population of elite athletes in the Republic of Ireland. The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI), the Irish Sports Council (ISC) and the Irish Institute of Sport (IIS) are the leading NGBs. According to the ISC (2008, 2009), boxing, athletics and rowing are the leading performance sports in the Republic of Ireland. To prepare for the 2012 Olympics, the ISC selected 16 focused sports in 2009 and provided organizational support to its athletes. Career research and assistance: The area of athlete career research and development in the UK has grown since the 1990s and extended to include transitions

and interventions within the sport career. In 1999, UK Sport established the Athlete Career and Education (ACE) UK program to support athletes’ development as part of supporting their performance, and later they rebranded the program as Performance Lifestyle. Athlete career and development studies in the Republic of Ireland have mainly been conducted by the IIS, which, since 2008, has provided an Athlete Lifestyle program for Irish elite athletes to enhance their performance and subjective well-being.