What does it take to be a world class athlete? Is it perseverance, hard work, commitment, hours of training and sacrifice? Or are champions decided before they every play their first game, run their first race, or even take their firsts steps? The debate of nature vs. nurture in athletics has been plaguing athletes and coaches for a long time. What is that makes top athletes better than all of the rest?
As a competitive athlete i understand and feel the burden of always wondering if my genetics will help or hinder me in athletic endeavors. When we look at a fact or figure like, the top 33 mens marathon records of all time are held by African runners, It is hard not to believe that an athletes genes play a significant role in how successful they are. This sounds like a disheartening figure, almost encouraging people to not even try because they are already pre-determined to fail. But even if we accept that nature plays a significant role in our athletic ability how do we know that the edge that these champions receive isn't strictly in strength, endurance, or other physical ability, but that of an athletes willingness to train, their perseverance, the mental toughness that pushed them harder than others. I refuse to believe that when i line up for a race that everyone there doesn't start on an even playing ground and it is the athlete that works the hardest, trains the hardest, and races the hardest that wins. If you start an event thinking that your competition was born to beat you, your already beaten.
Studies have linked certain genetics to be more prominent in athletes but it has not been proven that a person is born a champion. The following article discusses this ongoing debate and the amount that genes might affect our elite athletes, i would recommend all those interested in the subject to read farther.
I would like to close just by saying that i believe that it takes a multitude of factors, both from nature and from nurturing, to create a champion athlete and regardless if you think you have the genes of champion, you better give it absolutely everything you have come race day!