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Elite athletic performance: Genes, culture or training?

Discussion in 'Break Room' started by Craig Payne, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator


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    I just picked up this tweet from @Scienceofsport (Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas):

    This lead me to this Ross Tuckers recent publication:

    What makes champions? A review of the relative contribution of genes and training to sporting success
    Ross Tucker & Malcolm Collins
    Br J Sports Med 2012;46:555-561
    Full text
  2. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    Interesting topic.

    I use to think that training & environment played a big part in performance (compared to genetics) - I still do to varying degrees. Now I'm coming from distance running perspective where there are no short cuts to success - you just simply need to do the hard yards to get the results.

    However, of late I have wondered on this topic where I have to acknowledge the heavy influence of genetics - some events probably more so than others. For want of a better analogy... a V8 engine will usually out perform a V6... influences such as this will be more obvious in some events. In Kenya & Ethiopia there is obviously a large genetic pool of conducive distance running genes but there is also a great environment to nurture that genetic pool via the environment (high altitude, nature of lifestyle, diet, cultural influences, successful peers etc...) & the fact that they also have a great training environment where young runners can train side by side Olympic champions, world champions, world record holders & about 10, 20, 30 sub 30min. 10km runners or sub 2:10 marathoners - this would be enough to inspire any young athlete to believe in him/herself. If Australian & European athletes had this training environment then we will see much better results. America of late has been focussing on this aspect & is now starting to get some good results for the distance events. I think Australia, Europe & USA have the genetic talent (probably not the same depth of East Africa) but these areas also don’t have the optimal environment & training systems to attract & nurture that talent to world class performances.

    One only has to watch an athlete like Usain Bolt to see the genetic talent he has for the 100 & 200m. One only has to see a runner like David Rudisha to see the clear genetic talent he has for the 800m. David is pretty much a certainty for winning the gold medal for the 800m this Thursday at the Olympics... he looks strong & moves extremely well...

    Now there’s genetic talent being expressed... great biomechanics, great engine (great 800m package)... hardly looked puffed at the end of one of the fastest times in history (& he holds the world record). It would be interesting to see what he could do over 1500m.

    However, those not blessed to the same genetic talents of another can still be successful but they certainly need to work at it & make sure they tick all the boxes for a holistic package for optimal performance. I personally feel distance/endurance athletes with lesser genetic talent have a greater chance of winning over someone with greater genetic talent compared to athletes in the shorter distances... probably something worth hypothesising further on.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2016
  3. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Tucker also talks about the 10 000 hrs of training needed to reach the top ..... that is ~3hrs a day for 9-10yrs!
  4. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    Getting back to my David Rudisha prediction... well, I'm no fortune teller as he is such a class athlete... but didn't quite expect what eventuated in the Olympic final... a world record (1:40.91) & one of the (if not the) greatest 800m races of all time - the whole field was fast, which is fairly rare for an Olympic race.

    One world record, next an African record, National & World Junior record for Botswana, another national record (Ethiopia), 4 personal bests & another season best. 1:42.82 only got you 4th and 1:43:77 last!!

    Here is the video. Not sure how long it's going to last as the IOC have already taken down one of the Olympic 800m videos...

    Would have to be one of the most gifted athletes on the track... he is such an incredible mover - powerful with great technique!

    News: Stunning! Rudisha 1:40.91 World Record in London! - UPDATED
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2016
  5. Suzannethefoot

    Suzannethefoot Active Member

    Genetics is definitely the best starting point. People of black African origin, whatever country they were born and grew up in, make up most of the starting line ups in the running categories, and the vast majority of the top three winners!

    Jealous? me? never! ;-)
  6. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Here is another new one from the same authors as above:
    The genetic basis for elite running performance
    Ross Tucker, Jordan Santos-Concejero, Malcolm Collins
    Br J Sports Med 2013;47:545-549
  7. Darn! And I thought that if I ran barefoot like my ancestors that this would make me an elite runner......:wacko::rolleyes::cool:
  8. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    I've seen a lot of running documentaries in my time... the following on David Rudisha would have to be one of the best. I consider David Rudisha to be one of the best movers in running, with an obvious gift (yes, he is of good running genetics with an Olympic 400m father pedigree). However, something more is often required to make it to world # 1, Olympic Champ & world record holder. The doc. (interestingly) shows the early days, his development & trials from a junior up to his world record performance at the 2012 Olympics - of which unfortunately the race is not shown (likely due to IOC copyright issue - which is why the above cited video at post 4 is gone).

    100 Seconds to Beat the World: The David Rudisha Story...

    I was once a 800m/1500m runner myself... his training doesn't look overly impressive (for someone of his calibre i.e. 2:08 800m reps). Then again, we don't see much of his training... & it's at altitude (which does sting on track training).
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2016

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