Higher-degree research being undertaken by Dianne Huxley




Associate Professor Donna O'Connor

Thesis title:

Athlete Development in Track and Field



Project description

This research builds on my master’s dissertation which looked at training and injury profiles in Australian elite junior track and field (T&F) athletes and revealed many young athletes sustained serious injuries resulting in premature retirement for some. The overall aim of this thesis is to explore, define and explain some of the factors leading to the success and maintenance of senior international T&F careers by Australian athletes. The theoretical framework underpinning the research is based predominantly on the Bioecological Theory of Human Development. This theory looks at the development of a person (specifically from childhood) within the context of the system of relationships that form his or her environment. It has also proven to be an appropriate framework to examine the development of sports talent because of its systematic approach in understanding and analysing the human processes and interactions influencing the holistic development of sports talent. As this is the first study of its kind in Australia it aims to provide some empirical evidence and data relating to the developmental processes of these athletes with the view of providing a better understanding of the major influencing factors in the successful nurturing and development of T&F talent in Australia. It is also hoped that it will provide the impetus and platform for further research into the development of Australia’s best track and field talent of the future. The research will comprise four studies involving various aspects of the development of talented Australian track and field athletes throughout their career using a mixed methods (questionnaires and in-depth interviews) approach.

Dianne Huxley's research is a culmination of over 40 year’s involvement in T&F as an athlete, coach and manager from grassroots through to Olympic level. She is passionate about education having taught and lectured in science, sport and fitness for over 30 years. Although coming late to research she is thoroughly enjoying the challenge and being immersed in the stimulating environment of Sydney University as well as some casual teaching. She spends her time between Sydney and Coastal Victoria, apart from when visiting her grown up children residing in the USA.


  • Australian Postgraduate Award (APA)

Professional and community roles


  • Huxley, D., O'Connor, D. & Healey, P. (2013). An examination of the training profiles and injuries in elite youth track and field athletes. European Journal of Sport Science. Published online: 19 June, 2013.
  • Huxley (nee Barnes), D. (2001). Strength development in distance running training. Modern Athlete and Coach, 39(2), 15-17.

Conference presentations