Case study of a competitive female mountain bike racer with Multiple Sclerosis

Kimberly Fasczewski, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA

Theme: Motivation and self-perceptions

Poster Number: 46

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Multiple Sclerosis affects 2.1 million people world-wide (National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2012). There is no cure but an expanding body of research suggests that physical activity can have a positive impact on the symptoms of MS. This research explores the role of athletic participation in the life of a long-time Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferer, who is also a competitive mountain bike racer. This case study was designed as a view into the life experiences of one woman’s journey confronting both her disease and her able bodied competitors, focusing on how self-perceptions and psychological skills aid her in meetings those challenges. The participant is a 51-year old woman who was diagnosed with MS when she was a teenager. She is a competitive elite amateur mountain bike racer and frequently competes against able-bodied competitors half her age. Her events of choice are endurance events that require extensive training (up to 20 hours per week) with competitions lasting up to 12 hours at a time. Data were collected through a series of in depth, semi-structured interviews that first explored the role athletics plays in her life and specifically in dealing with her MS, and second, examined the psychological skills she uses to deal with both her sport and her disease. The goal of this study was to gain insight into a real life success story of one woman. The preliminary findings suggest that she sees high self-efficacy, mental toughness and a positive outlook as keys to success in sport and in life, and that her participation in athletics strengthens those positive characteristics. Findings may be helpful to both sport psychology and medical professionals who work with individuals with MS.

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