The Sports Gene: How Olympians are made (or born)


Erika Coimbra,
Brazilian Summer Olympian,
and one of the subjects of
“The Sports Gene”

The venues at Sochi are still, it seems, a work in progress.  Nevertheless, before the week’s end, we will (should?) see the Winter Olympic games start up.  Soon, we’ll get to watch some of the finest athletes in the world compete at their sport.

There has been a lot of talk about the on-going construction at the most expensive games in Olympic history, as well as the issue of gay rights and cultural sensibilities in Russia;  and there have been worries about the potential for terrorism.  But soon, when the competitions begin, I hope the focus will justifiably be on the athletes on the snow and ice.

Or in Tweet speak: #LetGamesBegin

I’ve not been consciously preparing for this elite sporting event, but rather coincidentally recently picked up a book that highlights elite athletes and has received a great deal of positive ‘buzz’:  The Sports Gene, by David Epstein.

You likely have heard of the book.  It has been receiving excellent reviews and is generating a lot of chatter in print, visual and social media.  On Monday, for instance, The Guardian hosted a live chat online with the author.  Subtitled, “Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance,” the book delves into one of the ‘ultimate’ questions in sport:  nature or nurture, which is more important?  And, specifically, which is more important in the realm of elite sport?

Like many ‘ultimate’ questions, the real answer is not a clean, binary one.  That said, I walk away from reading this book thinking the bulk of the evidence is in favor of nature:  genetic endowments favor the production of elite athletes. Read more of this post

Paralympics, Sochi 2014, ACSM and more!

It’s been almost a month since the ACSM 2013 meeting in Indianapolis wrapped, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving for me.

Meetings like those of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM), or the Canadian Society for Sports and Exercise Medicine (CASEM)–all partner societies with the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine (CJSM)–are such a pleasure because a sports medicine clinician like myself can interact with clinician researchers from across the globe.


Michael Phelps better watch his back: My good friend and Paralympic Swimmer, Rayne McCann and her haul of medals

At both the ACSM meeting and the AMSSM meeting in San Diego I saw my friend and fellow CJSM editor, Connie LeBrun, M.D., from the University of Alberta.  I heard she chaired a wonderful session on the Paralympics at ACSM, one I could not attend because there was a concurrent session that took me away (such are the ‘downsides’ of these meetings–there is usually too much to fit in!)

What could I do, but beg Connie to pen a guest blog for me so I could learn more about her session at ACSM.  Little did I know, I could also live vicariously her jet-set life:  catching up with her between Indianapolis, Calgary, Russia, and all points between (I’m beginning to wonder if she’s involved in the Edward Snowden affair).  It has been hard to track her down!  But worth it.

And so I present the guest blog from my colleague, Connie Lebrun, M.D.



London 2012: Wenlock? Or Mandeville?

Can’t believe how fast the time has flown since the recent ACSM Annual Meeting in Indianapolis! A huge highlight for me, was chairing the Special Event submitted by the Olympic/Paralympic Sports Medicine Issues (OPSMI) Committee, of which I am a member. It was entitled: “London 2012: A Look Back at the Sports Medicine and Sport Science Issues of the Olympics and Paralympics.”

We had a stellar cast of speakers, beginning with David Epstein, a brilliant young “investigative journalist” for Sports Illustrated, who has won many awards for his science writing. He has produced innumerable cover stories for SI, on a variety of topical and controversial sports issues, including the piece that broke the news that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez had used steroids.

Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: