Speed Queen Shelly-Ann Faser by Lim CK.
Watching big sporting events reveals so much. And I don’t mean the winner. The way people and countries get wrapped up in competition, sometimes, it is almost like war my other means.
Throughout the 08 Olympics I was very intrigued and irritated by the coverage of the competition by many of the American networks I had access to. Why? Well, it was not really too much coverage of Michael Phelps, or even the tendency not to focus on events that Americans did not win. As irritating as both those things were, it was the explanation of Jamaica’s success on the track that irked the most.
The success was written of as ‘natural.’ Bolt’s exceptional performance even caused him to be considered a ‘freak of nature.’ Many seem to think this was complimentary. I was not among them. I was confused as to why our success would be placed in these categories. The accomplishments, and smaller ones at that, of other athletes would be considered a result of years of hard work, dedication, discipline and all the other virtues from which your Sunday school teacher told you success flows. Odd.
Then I stumbled on this article. It hit all the important nature and nurture signposts: genes and champs. What I also found interesting was the interplay between them. Jamaicans might have a genetic advantage, but it is the cultural context that pushes many of our athletes to become world beaters. The importance of environment is further explicated by noting that although genes should predispose Americans to be the preeminent long distance runners, it is East Africans who have a lower genetic endowment which dominate that sporting activity.