August 14, 2003

Do genes determine whether you will be an Olympian or not?: "Australian researchers studied athletes at Canberra's Australian Institute of Sport, a national Olympic athlete training center. The researchers found that a gene called alpha-actinin can make runners better at either sprinting or endurance, depending on which version of the gene they have. ... They found that sprinters tend to have one version of the gene, alpha-actinin-3 or ACTN3, while long-distance runners tend to have a different version, ACTN2." Huh. I guess I must have the gene LAZY1.

posted by worldcup2002 to other at 09:09 PM - 4 comments

It's been known for years that some people are 'genetically' predisposed towards high levels of slow-twitch (Type I) or fast-twitch (Type II) fibers, I guess we now know what genes actually dictate this. Cool. Here's some related info: We typically think of fast twitch/slow twitch fibers in terms of percentile or percentages. Most top sprinters are 80% fast twitch while top marathoners are 80% slow. An athlete who is 80% fast twitch would likely be in the 99th percentile of the total population for fast twitch. Different parts of your body can have different fast/slow fiber composition. In terms of actual performance, very high percentile levels of fast twitch fibers are a far better predictor of sprinting success then high levels of slow twitch are of endurance. (Other factors seem to weigh equally into a distance runners success.) It appears that through training you can actually increase the percentage of slow twitch fibers you have (within limits) while fast twitch does not seem to change (there’s not complete agreement on this) – although all fibers can be made more effective or efficient through training. Of those tested at the 1984 Olympics the athlete who was in the highest percentile for fast twitch: Greg Louganis. Key factor here is ‘of those tested’. The testing was via muscle biopsy and a lot of the sprinters wouldn’t participate. Everyone can wake up now.

posted by kloeprich at 11:33 AM on August 15, 2003

It's all so clear now...

posted by garfield at 12:08 PM on August 15, 2003

2000th post yo!

posted by oliver_crunk at 03:16 PM on August 15, 2003

Wow, brilliant! Thanks for pointing that out, oliver! I hadn't seen that. Cool.

posted by worldcup2002 at 07:34 PM on August 15, 2003

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