Of all known bio-diversities of men, the Jamaican sprinters are quite an awe. When Usain Bolt along with his team of Jamaicans swept the sprinting events, in London Olympics, it was hardly surprising, although considered a stunning feat for the small Caribbean nation. Athletes of African ancestry hold every major male running record, over the last seven Olympic men’s 100-meter races; all 56 finalists have been of West African descent.
We cannot avoid confronting the fact of our patterned human biodiversity, which explains why Chinese excel in the ‘Chinese splits’ and Eurasians dominate weight lifting.
Dr.Joseph Graves, Jr. who is an evolutionary biologist, says “Evolution has shaped body types and in part athletic possibilities. Differences don’t necessarily correlate with skin color, but rather with geography and climate. Endurance runners are more likely to come from East Africa and sprinters from West Africa. That’s a fact. Genes play a major role in this.”
When the difference between the gold medal and the fourth place is just a fraction of a second; then genetic differences become a significant parameter.
This year’s record-breaking group of sprinters has undoubtedly been aided by superior DNA, writes Jon Entine—and it shouldn’t be taboo to say so.
Genetic science has made it possible for us to have a moment of epiphany while trying to understand the success stories of many Olympians across various population. Apart from the hard work, grit and desire, genes too, make a substantial contribution.
Michael Johnson, the 400m world-record holder, recently postulated that black sprinters benefit from the outsize presence of ACTN3- the “speed” gene. But whether this variant is a fact or fiction is an ongoing debate.
After studying hundreds of athletes, scientists conclude that it is probably impossible for someone who lacks the ACTN3 protein to reach the top levels of performance in power sports.