Usain Bolt, the ACTN3 gene, and Jamaican Sprint Performance

Read here about why this gene is NOT likely a major factor in his outstanding performance.  Primarily in the fact that (in all likelyhood) ALL of his competitors have it too.

Rather, my point is that an excessive emphasis on ACTN3 as a major explanation for Jamaican success does a grave disservice to the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors required for top-level athletic performance. This suggestion goes against everything we’ve learnt about the genetics of complex traits from recent genome-wide association studies, which have revealed that quantitative traits (like height and body weight) are frequently influenced by dozens to hundreds of genes, each of small effect; if anything, it’s likely that athletic performance will be even more genetically complex than these traits. The ACTN3-centred argument also dismisses the importance of Jamaica’s impressive investment in the infrastructure and training system required to identify and nurture elite track athletes, the effects of a culture that idolises local track heroes, and the powerful desire of young Jamaicans to use athletic success to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

That last point is one of the explanations as to why the Japanese have been so crappy at Sumo in the last number of years–They’re too rich!  And why Sumo players from poorer countries are dominating.

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