Top Sprinters Running Genetic: Top sprinters may have the key gene
Old Article from BBC News 2003
Wednesday, 27 August 2003, 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK
Top sprinters may have the key gene
Becoming one of the fastest men or women in the world is all about years of hard training, healthy eating and early nights – or is it?
- Scientists in Australia have found evidence to suggest that genetics may also play an important part.
- They say top-class sprinters are more likely to have a copy of a particular version of a gene called ACTN3.
- They believe this version, the R allele, enables them to produce the explosive bursts of speed they need.
- R allele produces a protein called actinin, which is found in muscle fibers. Scientists believe it enables muscles to contract more quickly and more powerfully.
- The gene also comes in another form, the X allele. However, this version does not produce this protein.
Sprinters Genetic: Olympic athletes
Researchers at the Institute of Neuromuscular Research in Sydney carried out DNA tests on 300 athletes. And 50 of whom represented Australia at Olympic or international level in a variety of sports. While they also carried out similar tests on 400 ordinary people.
Screening would only ever give an indication, albeit a potentially valuable one, as to a child’s athletic promise
Rodney Walker, UK Sport
Sprinters Genetic: Born to Run? MRI scans reveal sprinters have different bone structure from the rest of us
Sprinters running aren’t just faster than the rest of us. Also, their bones are actually different from non-athletes. Competitive sprinters running have significantly different bone structure, with changes that make them run faster.
The finding could lead to tests to see if someone has the potential to be a competitive sprinter.
Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging on the feet of competitive sprinters running with at least three years of sprint training. They found that they had significantly longer bones in their forefeet – 6.2 percent bigger than non-sprinters.
According to New Scientist magazine, they found that 95% of elite sprinters running had at least one copy of the R allele while 50% had two copies. This compares to the other volunteers. Just 72% of them had one copy of the R allele while 30% had two copies.
The study, originally published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, also found differences between sprinters running and other athletes.
- They found that non-sprinters or those who participate in endurance sports, such as distance running, were also less likely to have this version of the gene.
- Just 76% of endurance athletes had one R allele while 32% had two copies.
- The researchers also tested for the other version of this gene, the X allele.
- They found that just 5% of sprinters running had two copies of this gene. This compares to 24% of endurance athletes and 18% of the ordinary volunteers.
- These differences prompted the researchers to speculate that athletes with two copies of X allele were better suited to endurance sports.
People with two copies of the X allele are unable to produce actinin-3, the protein needed to enable muscles to move quickly and powerfully.
Kathryn North, who led the study, said: “I hypothesis that absence of alpha-actinin-3 means that an individual’s muscles are more ‘slow’ in character, and better suited for endurance activities.”
Sprinters Genetic screening
However, even members of the research team have conceded that the findings will not mean future Olympic champions could be identified early through genetic testing. Most experts believe many other genes may also play a role. Jason Gulbin, who coordinates scouting activities for Australia’s Institute of Sport, backed that view.
“Being an elite athlete is not entirely dependent on ACTN3. It is still highly contentious whether we can use genetic markers to predict performance at all. The research has not been done,” he told New Scientist.Rodney Walker, chairman of UK Sport, said genetic testing would serve only to identify people with potential.”Screening would only ever give an indication, albeit a potentially valuable one, as to a child’s athletic promise,” he said.
Their Achilles tendons were also different – with tendon lever arms 12 percent shorter than non-sprinters.
It’s unclear whether the training changes the foot, or whether some people are ‘born to run’. But the changes deliver a clear advantage – allowing people with ‘sprinter’s feet’ to generate greater force over a long time while running.
‘We made the most direct measurement possible of leverage in the Achilles tendon and found that sprinters’ tendons had shorter lever arms — or reduced leverage for pushing their bodies off of the ground — compared to non-sprinters,’ said Stephen Piazza, associate professor of kinesiology at Penn State University.
Josh Baxter, graduate student, shorter Achilles tendon lever arms and longer toe bones permit sprinters to generate greater contact force between the foot and the ground and to maintain that force for a longer time, thus providing advantages to people with sprinter-like feet.
To conduct their research, the scientists studied two groups of eight males, for a total of 16 people.
- The first group was composed of sprinters who were involved in regular sprint training and competition.
- The second group consisted of height-matched individuals who never had trained or competed in sprinting.
To be included in the sprinter group, individuals were required to currently be engaged in competitive sprinting and have at least three years of continuous sprint training.
Asian Athletes Limited by Genes or Nurture?
(Dec 27) A debate on the prospects of Asian athletes in American sports passes. Without mention of Yao Ming, the Shanghai Sharks’s 7-6, 265-pound center. Who recently led China to an 83-82 upset over the U.S. His prospects as the likely top pick of the 2002 NBA draft have been trumpeted. Bby no lesser authorities than Michael Jordan and Bill Walton.
But the 21-year-old superstar is literally one in a billion (1.25 billion to be exact). Young Yao is the product, genetically and culturally, of a 6-10 father and 6-4 mother. Both of whom played basketball for China’s national teams. His case is as likely to confuse the nature-vs-nurture debate as to help resolve it. After all, his height may be merely the tip of the genetic iceberg when it comes to his promise as a world-class basketball.
More familiar to Asian Americans are Michael Chang (5-9) who won the French Open at age 17.
And Ichiro Suzuki (5-9), whose batting and base-stealing have lifted the Mariners from the basement to the heavens. Both seem endowed with standard physical equipment. But have outperformed more powerful physiques. And on the women’s side Kristi Yamaguchi, Michele Kwan, Seri Pak and legions of Chinese divers and gymnasts have shown that champions needn’t be amazons.
But these successes haven’t silenced those who argue. That as a race Asians lack the genetic gifts to challenge black and white athletes in power sports. Asians are genetically smaller and weaker, they claim. Aand can only excel in sports calling for quickness and agility. They cite Asian under representation in track and field, football, basketball, soccer, tennis, boxing and the like.
- Will the future mirror the past?
- Are we genetically limited to excelling only in a few select sports.
- Or will changing social and economic conditions produce a generation of Asian superstars across the sports spectrum?
Since posting this article in 2013. Several Asian athletes have now broken the 10 Second mark in the 100m. As of 8th June 2019 there have been 825 performances below 10 seconds in History. While the vast majority of these are predominately by black athletes. For the purpose of this write up we will not consider wind-aided performances. 7 Asians have ran under 10 seconds.
Ogunode and Francis are Nigerians running for Qatar, Al-Harthi and Sani Brown are mixed black blood athletes. Brown father hailing from Ghana. But he has a Japanese mother so runs for Japan.
Therefore only 3 ethnic Asians have broken the Sub 10 second barrier. Breaking stereo type Su of China holds the equal fastest ever time over the 100m at 9.91 with Ogunode. While Kiryu of Japan has ran 9.98.
Who has ran more Sub 10 Asians or Caucasians?
While the dominance of Black and Mixed Black blood athletes on the track is very evident. What about Sub 10 Asians vs Sub 10 Caucasian athletes who has more.
First note no Caucasian or Asian athletes has broken 9.90. Su of China holds the fastest mark at 9.91 (+0.2).
Christopher Lemaitre of France who was the first non-black athlete to break 10 has a 9.92 in 2011.
Adam Gemili (Iranian and Moroccan descent) 9.97, Ramil Guliyev (Turkish ethnic) 9.97 and Filipo Tortu (Italy) 9.99 more recently.
So based on these figures its pretty close at 3-4 for Asian to Caucasian males under 10 seconds.
Are average Caucasians more muscled than average Asians?
on average yes. Blacks have the most, whilst indians have the least
Mean lean muscle mass (kg)
- black males = 65.6kg
- White males = 62 kg
- Hispanic males = 59.9 kg
- Asian males = 59.6 kg
- Indian males = 53.3 kg
At any given body fat mass value. South Asians had significantly less lean mass than each of the three other groups. After adjustment for age, height, humerus breadth, smoking status, physical activity, and diet.
Aboriginal, Chinese, and European men had 3.42 kg [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.55–5.29], 3.01 kg(95% CI = 1.33–4.70), and 3.57 kg (95% CI = 1.82–5.33) more lean mass than South Asian men at a given total fat mass, respectively”
Ethnic Variation in Fat and Lean Body Mass and the Association with Insulin Resistance
Asian Indians tend to have more abdominal adipose tissue. Less lean body mass (LBM) and higher magnitude of insulin resistance (IR) despite falling in the normal range of body mass index (BMI) .
The high value of waist hip ratio in Asian Indians may be due to less lean mass of the hips and greater fat at the levels of waist .
Another study showed that Asian Indian men have low muscle mass and 30% more total body fat (BF) than other ethnic groups .
Low lean mass is also evident in Asian Indian neonates as compared to white Caucasian neonates .
The lung capacity of Indians is 30 per cent lower than North Americans or Europeans or Chinese. Making them highly vulnerable to diabetes, heart attacks or strokes, says a top scientist.
“Asian Indians had more fat, both total and in the abdominal region, with less lean mass, skeletal muscle and bone mineral than all other ethnic groups”
Body size, body composition and fat distribution: comparative analysis of European, Maori, Pacific Island and Asian Indian adults.
“Asian Indians have different body phenotype from Europeans (36). The major differences are in high body fat, high truncal, subcutaneous and intra-abdominal fat, and low muscle mass.”
Ethnicity and type 2 diabetes in Asian Indian migrants in Auckland, New Zealand (PDF Download Available). Available from: [accessed Dec 18 2017].
“In particular, there is accumulating evidence that South Asians may have a ‘low fitness’ phenotype which contributes to their elevated cardio-metabolic risk, and thus may particularly benefit from undertaking higher levels of physical activity ”
In South Asians, a unique obesity phenotype of high abdominal fat is associated with increased cardiovascular risk
Studies in the South Asian diaspora residing in the U.K. during the early 1980s suggested the possibility of an Asian Indian or South Asian phenotype (Fig. 1). This term refers to a combination of characteristics that predisposes SA to the development of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Asian Athletes Limited by Genes
Additional Information Emailed in Regarding Indian Athletes
You said statistically Indians have lower lean mass in an article
- However, what is the race of Indians?
- Indians are Asian in landmass not in genetics
- In genetics, they are a Caucasian, Australoid, mongoloid land of people
- Also, Arabs do way worse than Indians even grass root levels despite having higher per capita and less polluted lands
- Saudis and Gulf Arabs have to import athletes and have the money to do it too
- I looked at the lean body mass of Indian basketball players vs Zimbabwan basketball players
- It was 66 kg for Indian players
- It was 61 kg for Zimbabwan players
The average per capitas for India and Zimbabwe are about the same with India being way more polluted on average so less lung capacity but the lean mass is just as much
Lets look at Asian medal tallies which includes middle eastern lands too
If you add up all the arab lands its still less medals than India as a whole not to mention a lot of athletes are imports in those lands
Look at arab lands who cant afford to buy athletes like iraq and syria
Also Indians use to run sprinting at the Asian games in the 1950s before Chinese and Japanese caught up in the 1980s.
Asian Athletes Limited by Genes Related articles
- Olympians live longer than rest of us (cnn.com)
- Social factors trump genetic forces in forging friendships, CU-led study finds (esciencenews.com)
- Sports › Politics overshadows on-field progress in Asian soccer in 2012 (japantoday.com)
- Year in Review The Top 10 Asian American Sports Figures of 2012 (news.newamericamedia.org)
Asian Athletes Limited by Genes