Cooper, DJ, Batt, ME, O'Hanlon, MS and Palmer, D (2021) A Cross-Sectional Study of Retired Great British Olympians (Berlin 1936-Sochi 2014): Olympic Career Injuries, Joint Health in Later Life, and Reasons for Retirement from Olympic Sport. Sports Medicine, 7 (1). 54 - ?. ISSN 0112-1642

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BACKGROUND: The relationship between Olympic career sport injury and the long-term musculoskeletal health of the elite athlete remains unclear. This study describes the lifetime prevalence of medical attention injuries that occurred during training and/or competition as part of the athlete's Olympic career, reasons for retirement from Olympic sport, and the point prevalence of pain and osteoarthritis (OA) among retired Great Britain's (GB) Olympians. METHODS: This cross-sectional study involved distributing a questionnaire to retired GB Olympians who had competed at 36 Olympic Games between Berlin 1936 and Sochi 2014. The questionnaire captured Olympic career injury history (lasting ≥ 1 month), sport exposure, musculoskeletal pain (last 4 weeks), physician-diagnosed OA, and joint replacement. Injury prevalence was calculated for sports with a minimal of 15 respondents. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR) were estimated in logistic regression for pain, OA, and joint replacement. Models were adjusted for age, sex, BMI, and career duration. RESULTS: Six hundred fifty (57.8% male; 42.2% female) retired athletes representing 40 sports (29 summer; 11 winter), aged 60.5 years (range 23-97), completed the questionnaire. Overall, 721 injuries (368 athletes) were self-reported equating to a lifetime Olympic career injury prevalence of 56.6%. Injury prevalence was highest in field athletics (81.0%), gymnastics (75.0%), and track athletics (67.7%). Injuries most frequently occurred at the knee (19.0%), lower back (15.4%), and shoulder (11.5%). Of those injured, 19.5% retired from sport due to injury. Pain was most prevalent at the lumbar spine (32.8%), knee (25.3%), and hip (22.5%), and OA at the knee (13.4%), hip (10.4%), and lumbar spine (4.6%). Injury was associated with pain at the hip (aOR 4.88; 95% CI, 1.87-12.72, p = 0.001), knee (aOR 2.35; 95% CI, 1.45-3.81, p = 0.001), and lumbar spine (aOR 2.53; 95% CI, 1.63-3.92, p < 0.001); OA at the hip (aOR 5.97; 95% CI, 1.59-22.47, p = 0.008) and knee (aOR 3.91; 95% CI, 2.21-6.94, p < 0.001); and joint replacement at the hip (aOR 8.71; 95% CI, 2.13-35.63, p = 0.003) and knee (aOR 5.29; 95% CI, 2.39-11.74, p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: The lifetime prevalence of Olympic career injury was 56.6%, with those injured more likely to self-report current pain and/or OA at the hip, knee, and lumbar spine and joint replacement at the hip and knee.

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Additional Information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Allied Health Professions
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Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2021 13:42
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2021 12:54

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