Still, what's an Olympiad without some modicum of controversy, real or manufactured? Legendary Sprinter Michael Johnson has already created one himself.
Olympic legend Michael Johnson says a ‘superior athletic gene’ in the descendants of West African slaves means black American and Caribbean sprinters will command the sport at the London Games.Well, one thing's for certain, I damn sure ain't get that athletic gene. I guess my descendants were genetically predisposed to housework.
The Olympic gold medallist and BBC commentator said: ‘Over the last few years, athletes of Afro- Caribbean and Afro-American descent have dominated athletics finals.
‘It’s a fact that hasn’t been discussed openly before. It’s a taboo subject in the States but it is what it is. Why shouldn’t we discuss it?’
Reigning Olympic 100m champion Usain Bolt was born in Trelawny Parish, Jamaica, where British Olympic boss Lord Coe’s plantation-owning ancestor George Hyde Park had 297 slaves.
Of the eight 100m finalists four years ago, three were Jamaicans, two came from Trinidad and Tobago, two were Afro-American and one, representing the Netherlands, was born on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao. All eight are believed to be descended from slaves.
Johnson says: ‘It is currently being researched to see how much of a factor being descended from slaves contributes to athletic ability.’
Some scientists believe a combination of selective breeding by slave owners and appalling conditions meant that only the strongest slaves endured, creating a group predisposed to record-breaking athletic performance.
African slaves underwent a rigorous selection process and only the fittest were transported on ships.
Interestingly, the toughest journey was to Jamaica, the last stop on the slave trail.
Johnson, 44, had a DNA test for a Channel 4 documentary, Michael Johnson: Survival Of The Fastest, to be screened on Thursday night, which confirmed he is of West African descent.
He said: ‘All my life I believed I became an athlete through my own determination, but it’s impossible to think that being descended from slaves hasn’t left an imprint through the generations.‘Difficult as it was to hear, slavery has benefited descendants like me – I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us.’
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I dunno if Johnson actually has a point here, nor do I really care. What really peeves me about any such discussion on black genetic athletic superiority is that such a train of thought inevitably dovetails into similar babble about white intellectual superiority. Or black intellectual inferiority. Personally, I don't have time for all that sh*t.
My read is pretty simple: people tend to be very good at things they spend a lot of time working on. It's no huge surprise that most NBA players are black, since, well, basketball's a large part of our culture. Asian people are great at math because that's what they value. Ascribing achievement to some sort of genetic advantage for a group of people as a whole is just silly, especially since there are so many exceptions to said rule.
So yeah, Michael Johnson, just shut up, basically.
Question: Did Michael Johnson have a point here?!?