A natural selection solution to your sport

A Dublin-based company provides home-testing kits to help determine if your genes have any athletic potential

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 16:47

He says latest research indicates that even traits such as desire may arise from DNA – but that doesn’t mean they come down to any single gene. Whether it’s running faster, standing taller or jumping higher, multiple genetic pathways may lead there. In addition, he says nature and nurture are so interlaced in any case that genetics alone tell you only so much.

In the US, there is a big push towards selling testing kits to parents who want to know the athletic ability of their children. Sports clubs, too, are increasingly looking for new ways to help screen the ability of their young recruits.

Will this form of testing be another way for pushy parents to drive their children too far in the search of success? Or maybe steering a child towards a sport they might be better at will be more fulfilling for them?

These vexing questions are quickly forgotten about once the results arrive.

A 10-page document has been produced that lists my various genetic results on scales ranging from “normal” to “increased potential”. Good, there’s no scale which indicates zero athletic ability. But the results are a mixed bag. I have mixed muscle fibres – slow and fast twitch. I also have a good predisposition to improve my VO2 max, the rate at which the body can absorb oxygen, and a good rating for recovery from high-intensity exercise.

All this sounds encouraging.

But my grip strength – important for any sport in which the hands are used for catching, throwing or lifting – is normal and there’s no sign of a rare gene associated with high-endurance capacity that is found in some world-class athletes.

There goes the Olympic medal, so.

Other results for muscle efficiency (the rate of energy expenditure and output) is normal, while another gene which suggests a predisposition for increasing your anaerobic threshold after training – the point at which trigger lactic acid is produced – is at the positive end.

Endurance events
Tony O’Brien, a conditioning adviser with Genetic Performance who has worked with professional rugby teams, tells me that the profiles suggests a person suited to endurance events, but who could improve their speed with the right kind of training.

“The fact that you’ve mixed muscle fibres is good for triathlons, for example,” he says. And then, the hard part.

He produces what looks like a punishing nine-week strength and conditioning progamme aimed at maximising my potential.

There’s also, if I’m interested, a dietary programme based on my body type – though there’s precious little room for beer, crisps or sausage rolls.

It’s a reminder that sporting glory doesn’t come easy.

It may involve natural talent – but it also involves serious hard graft and commitment.

Genetic Performance offers DNA testing kits starting at €189, call 01-5349454 or www.geneticperformance, call 01 -5349454..ie

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