Study aim: To examine the major social, cultural, and political factors determining sporting successes in very small countries at macro, meso, and micro levels through the example of Cyprus.
Material and methods: The article is based partly on the analysis of statistics and documents and partly on a segment of a comprehensive investigation carried out by standardized questionnaire and in-depth interviews among all Cypriot Olympians participating in the summer Olympic Games (N=93). The response rate was 79.6%. Regarding some major characteristics (age, gender, sport) the researched population fairly represents the total population.
Results: Little investment has been made in building sports facilities, the training of coaches, the support for sport science, and in the development of sport medicine. Elite sport has been reluctantly promoted by sport policy. Elite athletes had limited competition opportunities. Cypriot children with lower socioeconomic backgrounds and from villages had higher chances for becoming top-level athletes. Young girls hardly had any access to competitive sport.
<bold>Conclusions:</bold> Based on the analysis of documents it can be stated that not only the smallness of the country and the small number of the population but also the poor sporting tradition and culture as well as inconsistent sport policy also contribute to the Cypriot elite athletes' sporting results. From the findings by questionnaire it might be concluded that the Cypriot children had no equal chances to become top athletes.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.