I am about to finish up The Sports Gene by David Epstein and have enjoyed it immensely. If you have interest in sports particularly sprinting and long distance running and the advantages and disadvantages that genes produce. I got bogged down some with some of the statistics but I really enjoyed the stories of the athletes and their training. Several interesting quotes from the chapter on Kenyan runners.
From Page 207: “In one study (Yannis) Pitsiladis, (University of Glasgow biologist), conducted with colleagues, 81 percent of 404 Kenyan professional runners had to run or walk a considerable distance to and from primary school as children. Kenyan kids who rely on their feet to get to and from school have 30 percent higher aerobic capacities on average than their peers.”
From page 208: “It struck me that there is no such thing as a casual jogger in Kenya, only those who run for transportation, those who are killing themselves in training, and those who are not running at all.”
And finally from page 209: “How many of the top Kenyan runners have sons or daughters who are excelling at running?” Pitsiladis asks, rhetorically, after noting that there are plenty of Kenyan siblings and cousins who excel. “Almost none. Why? Because their father or mother becomes a world champion, has incredible resources, and the child never has to run to school again.”
I believe there are so many factors in becoming a world-class athlete and having favorable genes is only one part in the mix. This book to me made me have a better understanding of genes and what part they play but environmental factors seem to me also to play a major part in becoming a top notch athlete.
- Is There a Sports Gene? (theroot.com)
- The Sports Gene By David Epstein (radioalice.cbslocal.com)
- Book review: The Sports Gene (scotsman.com)
- Gladwell on human biological diversity in sports (isteve.blogspot.com)
- Do Genetic Advantages make sport unfair? (newyorker.com)