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Author Topic: Why do people of African origin make the best runners?  (Read 2654 times)

Mark Williams

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Mark Williams  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi Chris,
 
I listen to you on Redi's show on 702 in South Africa. If you have an opportunity to answer my question, I would be most grateful.
 
When it come to the worlds best long distant runners and best sprinters, my understanding  is that 10% of the world's population have long fibre or slow twitch mussels (long distance) and 10% have short fibre or fast twitch mussels (sprinters), and that those 20% are the only ones who can  be the world's best in their discipline with the correct training etc, and the rest of us are doomed be be average (perhaps you can verify that for me please).
 
My actual question is: Why, when it come to sprinters, whether they are English, Jamaican or from the USA, the best are of African origin? Properly trained Black sprinters unquestionably have the edge on other ethnic groups. Why Chris?
 
Many thanks.
 
Regards,
Mark Williams

What do you think?


 

Ethos

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Why do people of African origin make the best runners?
« Reply #1 on: 24/02/2009 03:31:44 »
I remember reading somewhere that the African's calf muscle is located at a more advantagous position on their leg. If I remember correctly, the bulk of this muscle is located at a higher point allowing them to accelerate more rapidly.
 

Offline JP

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Why do people of African origin make the best runners?
« Reply #2 on: 24/02/2009 03:45:02 »
There's supposedly some genetics involved, and certain genes are more common in certain ethnic groups.  Probably more precisely, different genes are more common in those who originate from different regions of the world.  I recently read an article in Slate (http://www.slate.com/id/2206088/pagenum/all/) discussing a certain gene that's correlated to giving athletes an edge in sprinting.  This gene is apparently common among those of west-African descent, which probably goes a long way towards answering your question. 
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Why do people of African origin make the best runners?
« Reply #3 on: 24/02/2009 10:23:54 »
Most of the world's best marathon runners come from a comparitively small area in northern and central Kenya, & Ethiopia. These people are Nilotic rather than Bantu. That would certainly suggest to me that there is an environmental and/or genetic factor involved.
 

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Why do people of African origin make the best runners?
« Reply #3 on: 24/02/2009 10:23:54 »

 

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