When it comes to basketball and several other sports many people have thought that black people tend to excel more in these areas. Well one Olympian has started a firestorm by bringing that thought to the forefront.
Olympic legend Michael Johnson says a ‘superior athletic gene’ in the descendants of West African slaves means black American and Caribbean sprinters will command the sport at the London Games.
The Olympic gold medalist and BBC commentator said: ‘Over the last few years, athletes of Afro- Caribbean and Afro-American descent have dominated athletics finals.
‘It’s a fact that hasn’t been discussed openly before. It’s a taboo subject in the States but it is what it is. Why shouldn’t we discuss it?’
Of the eight 100m finalists four years ago, three were Jamaicans, two came from Trinidad and Tobago, two were Afro-American and one, representing the Netherlands, was born on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao. All eight are believed to be descended from slaves.
Some scientists believe a combination of selective breeding by slave owners and appalling conditions meant that only the strongest slaves endured, creating a group predisposed to record-breaking athletic performance.
Dr Herb Elliott, doctor to the Jamaican Olympic team, added: ‘Only the most aggressive and fiercest slaves ended up in Jamaica.’
Johnson said, ‘Difficult as it was to hear, slavery has benefited descendants like me – I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us.’
Although they raise some very intriguing points I don’t want to take away from the hard work and dedication many athletes put in to achieve their goals. There are also many people who aren’t descendants of slaves who are tremendous athletes and dominate their field. My fear is if we give in to this theory then it sets the bar for other races who may claim a genetic superiority in other fields like intelligence due to their previous dispositions. Interesting theory but it’s one I’d like to remain as just that, a theory.