The older athlete is redefining what normal aging is and what's possible for people who are middle age or older."
It's Cultural, Not Genetic
"Nobody becomes a great athlete without prolonged intense training," Dr. Joyner says. "As scientists search for genes and the determinants of performance, they keep drawing a blank. There have been no major gene discoveries saying that this gene really confers championship status or the potential for championship status of one person."
Sports are complex behaviors for biologists, he says. Many genes contribute to performance, but it isn't likely that one individual would have the right combination of all genes that would give you a natural competitive edge, he says.
"It can be very deceptive to say that since the Kenyans, and perhaps Ethiopians, are dominating distance running, it must be genetic. In fact there have been periods of time when other cultures have dominated distance running. Before World War II, the Finns dominated distance running. After World War II, the Eastern Europeans dominated distance running. They were just as dominant as the Kenyans are now," Dr. Joyner says.
Dr. Joyner points to cultural influences in sports. "I think what the
Kenyans and Ethiopians have shown is the value of altitude training. They
are physically active their entire lives, they live at high altitude, they
run to and from school, they play soccer after school - all at high
altitude (6,000 to 8,000 feet). There are not a lot of economic
opportunities, so there is a tremendous incentive for people to run and
train hard," he
|SOURCE Mayo Clinic|
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