Do Kenyans Benefit From Genetics?

Kenyan runners have dominated distance running for years. Photo:

China’s Xinhua news service seeks answers to this question.

A recent article by sportswriter Ben Ochieng surfaces up an ongoing debate within the running community as to whether or not Kenyans and East Africans have some sort of genetic edge that enables them to run faster than anyone else in the world.

“Best-selling books have been written about it, one was blatant enough to declare that all gold medals in short sprints in future Olympics will be won by people of West African blood,” says Kenyan sports scientist Paul Nyamango. “In most of these stories, certain very obvious and well known facts tend to be omitted.”

Ochieng goes on to point out that leading genetic researchers state that some sort of Kenyan running edge thanks to genetics is nonsense and that there is more genetic variation within one African people than the rest of the world put together.

“The impression the media has created, therefore is that black people are so good at sports because they are similar. The truth is the exact opposite,” says Nyamango.

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