Rio olympics womens gymnastsWhat makes an Olympian? – Is it indeed true that they are genetic freaks or are they just so driven that nothing could ever stop them?

Well there’s probably some truth in both.

Firstly you do have to have some genetic predispositions; you don’t see many short basketball players or high jumpers. An Olympic athlete’s build is usually optimised for his or her sport for example:

  • A large lung capacity can well place them for aerobic participation; think swimming or running disciplines.
  • Having large hands makes a great water paddle for the swimmer and having long legs makes a great long distance runner – whilst having shorter levers (arms and legs ration to body length) provides great mechanics for the power lifters.
  • For the long distance runner the volume of their calf is said to aid the biomechanics in that a smaller one means less mass to move per stride. Combine that with long legs and you can begin to see how the African athletes are more naturally built for these types of events.

And for the rest of us? There are things you can change with a little dedicated training, the things that you or I could work to improve upon because we play sports that we love even though we are short with chunky calves!!!

  • Like decreasing our resting heart rate through aerobic activity.
  • Increasing our reflex speed through SAQ (speed agility quickness) and coordination drills.
  • Working at our positive mental attitude and believing we can be better
  • And of course becoming leaner so that the weight we carry around for whatever sport we play is useful muscular weight and not energy wasted in carrying around excess fat

….So there is still lots to play for guys, train hard, be as good as you can be and if you’re not heading for the Olympics watch in awe and amazement as I do, at the wondrous feats of the human body!!