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The Sports Gene

Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by David Epstein

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10:44am, July 26, 2013

Sprinter Usain Bolt’s website proclaims him “arguably the most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen.” But is the speed that propelled Bolt to Olympic gold really a product of his genes, or do the secrets of his success lie in rigorous training and support from Jamaica’s rich sprinting tradition? Epstein, a sports writer, former scientist and competitive runner, explores the variables for building the perfect athlete in his new book.

One popular theory holds that 10,000 hours of practice can make anyone an expert in a given field. But Epstein offers caveats. Some people are genetically endowed to benefit from training. Others struggle to make even marginal improvements, partially because their genes cause them to plateau physiologically or make their body types fundamentally unsuitable for their sports.

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