Why size does matter

Long, short or tall – scientists claim that matching your body shape to a sport could turn you into a medal winner.

Marathon runners are wiry, basketball players are human skyscrapers and weightlifters are short, squat, muscular beefcakes. Gymnasts are petite and as bendy as pipe-cleaners, while swimmers have hands and feet like in-built flippers. It is said that choosing your parents is the most important step towards reaching the top in sport, with genes determining physique and how your body functions.

So if you are not genetically blessed, should you kiss goodbye to hopes of being a sports champion at birth?

Experts say that body build is a crucial factor in determining aptitude for sport. Professor Andy Jones, the chair of applied physiology at the University of Exeter’s school of sport and health sciences, goes as far as to say that “success at elite level is largely down to nature” rather than nurture. “In Olympic finals, the importance of body type is quite obvious,” he says. “The build of a marathon runner, for instance, is very different from that of a hammer thrower or hockey player.”

Professor Richard Davison, the chair of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences and an exercise physiologist at Napier University in Edinburgh, agrees. “If you are very short, you are never going to be a top-class basketball player. And if you are too tall, you will not make a world-class gymnast. It is not just physical leverage issues that make it difficult for people with long limbs to perform rotation movements, but tall gymnasts would be penalised by judges for not looking linear and elegant.”

Source - Times

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