Norwegian coaches’ experiences with training Chinese athletes 

Project timeline: 2022-2023

Project researchers: Anne Tjønndal and Siv Stavang Aune

External collaborations: Dr. Heidi Østbø Haugen, professor of China Studies at the University of Oslo

Project description 

In 2017, a collaboration involving the sports field on a governmental level between Norway and China was contracted. The collaboration aimed to make ski sports more popular in China, in addition to contributing to an exchange of new ideas, experiences and knowledge. Ca. 100 Norwegian coaches, leaders and other support apparatus have been a part of this collaboration with different duration. In practice, the collaboration with the exchange of coaches and athletes started in 2018, planning to last until the Beijing Olympics in 2022.  

The objective of the project is to learn more about how differences in coaching traditions influence coach-athlete relationships and the coaches’ experiences. Furthermore, this involves the coaches’ experience with training athletes who have practised sports in a regime that promulgates different cultures and values in elite sports.  

The main topics we are exploring:  

  • What attracted these coaches to become part of the program to train Chinese athletes? 
  • Which values are the foundation for the coaches’ coaching model and Norwegian elite sports coaching in general?  
  • How did the athlete-coach relationship evolve as the coaches became more familiar with each other’s backgrounds?  
  • How was the athlete-coach relationship affected by the political context within which it unfolded?  
  • What were the coaches’ experiences and thoughts after the coaching agreement came into the Norwegian public spotlight?  


Norges Idrettsforbund (2020). Klargjøring av NIFs rolle i Kina-samarbeidet.