It seems as though some athletes were born to be the best in the world, but is this true or is being the best the result of incredibly hard work? If sports stars are simply born that way then what is the point in coaching them from such a young age? We’re looking at the science, deciding if sports stars are born with their talent, or if they are made into superstars.
Born this way
Scientists have looked into the genes of top athletes and discovered there is a part of their make up that suggests they are born to be the best. The ACTN3 gene is dubbed the “gene for speed,” and those with it are often super fast. Then there is the gene for muscle proteins which produce fast twitch muscle fibers, which are perfect for strong and explosive athletes. Both of these types of athletes will have natural advantages over those who do not have them, so in this respect, athletes are born.
Another example is body types, and how certain people have the perfect frames for professional sports. For instance, a person born close to 7 ft tall is a good candidate for basketball while someone under 5ft is prone to being a good gymnast. Usain Bolt wasn’t built like a typical sprinter, but his long legs and lean body made him the perfect speed runner.
Athletes are made
There are very few, if any, top athletes in their sports who made it there without practice and are riding their natural talent alone. Athletes must work hard to get where they are, and training is essential to making them perform better. Most of the top stars didn’t get to the pinnacle without trying to constantly improve and become better versions of themselves each day.
Then there are environmental influences to consider. Many of the greatest marathon runners are from small African countries and forced to walk many miles per day from a very young age. This has trained their bodies to be able to travel for long distances without the fatiguing effects many of the rest of us suffer from.
If we consider athletes being made rather than born this way, then we can look to the NFL as a great example. Sure there are plenty of naturally gifted athletes in the league, but mostly all of the football players are from America. If the rest of the world’s athletes were to grow up in a nation where football was considered the top sport we bet the game would have a more international flavor.
Born or made?
There are arguments for both sides, and an athlete’s body must have the genetic makeup to give them a fighting chance. They cannot neglect training though, and the natural advantages they have over others can be surpassed by those with more determination to succeed.
Athletes are very much born as not only are their bodies perfect for their chosen sport, but their mentality is perfect. Often it’s the mind that’s the difference between a top athlete and a minor league star.