Best Ever Sprinter Genetics

I am wondering what others thoughts are on where Houston McTear stands on the all time best sprinter genetics list?

I know he never realized his potential but just looking at his natural genetics I wonder what others think. I wonder who else you all think is/was better(!?). Would be especially interested in Charlies’s input.

Forgive me if this has came up before but I tried searching his name and nothing came up.

Im not sure about past sprinter genetics, but, I would love to see what Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery’s kid can do with the best possible training!!!


Bob Hayes.

Agree with Don

I would have to say myself. I just never had any desire to run fast really. Yup, so that should settle it, I am pretty much the man.

OK, I change my vote…I’m going to have to agree with Herb. If I had known that it was simply a lack of desire to run fast…talk about raw talent :slight_smile:

Genetic determinism can’t be proven.

Applies to sports performance as well as psychology (I can give references from psychology)

In psychology there are examples that show there is virtually no genetic influence (on things like intelligence), in healthy individuals, those without chromasome defects. Same applies for sporting performance as far as I’m concerned.

There are a surprising amount of physical qualities (from fibre type to VO2max) that are attributed without any doubt to genetics. Some traits may be influenced very early in life (even in the womb after conception), but this is still be the environment not genetics - example diet of mother while pregnant (e.g of this look at MMR controversy in England).

(edit - hmm this thread has got me thinking - there is a stronger case for biological determinism for some physical traits relevant to sports performance, in a limited way - more reading to do!)

I agree with xlr8 and David W.

Genius can’t be inherited.

Genes. Well listen to that on genes. When I was at high school, I ran 14.1 in the 100m. I said I was gonna beat everyone the year after. They laughed at me, made fun of me and never talked to me. I was short and weak. I asked a guy. He said no hope " its Genes "!!! I didn’t believe. I trained and trained. I ran 11.93 the year after. Broke my school record the year after with 11.12 10.89 the yearafter 10.6 afew months later 10.5 another few months later. switched to electronic timing and ran 10.99, then went down to 10.57 in another 2 years. It was about 6 years to this. If I would’ve believed in Genetics by then, I would’ve been sitting home by now playing some playstation or something. But now I’m someone with a respectable goal. I believe that genes only prove when you do your job. You will only know you have good genes when you train 100% over the years and reach your goal. So the only way to know is to actually get down and do the job. So getting down to do the job is something you have to do anyway. So who cares about genes anyway!!

Bailey always struck me as one of the most talented sprinters I’ve ever seen. But I agree if the training isn’t there the best genetic make up in the world isn’t going to help you run a 9.9 or 10.0.

There was this guy I knew at school and he was really good, but he just got involved in stuff and never really … yadda … yadda … yadda …yadda …

[QUOTE=fast11_12]I believe that genes only prove when you do your job. …the only way to know is to actually get down and do the job. QUOTE]

I really like that.

BTW: What would be the perfect genes? Certain relations in lenght of limbs? Certain muscle structure? Certain disposition of CNS? Certain way muscles are attached to the bones?

What scientists do is always: they take the must successfull individuals at a time and say “I found out: it’s the muscle structure. X has a lot of fast twich fibres!” Next time you hear: “It’s the relation of the lenght of his bones. Y’s limbs can apply the perfect lever force.” Then Champion Z shows up. BlaBlaBla. Every new study a new explanation.

Anybody knows the film Gattaca? - deals with that topic, too.

There’s even a name for that kind of logic - ‘reverse engineering’ which is fiercely criticised by some scientists. So don’t generalise it to all scientists always. Some of those who say all this might not even believe what they are saying - maybe just trying to get an article published…

The problem with such explanations is that they are not predictive (or rather are not used predictively), which good theories should be - theories need to predict outcomes in experiments, and with genes/evolution we can’t do that, without complete control over someone’s life.

This kind of stuff is common in the arguments between scientists about evolution.

Stuff like variation in muscle/tendon attachments, lever length/mechanics interests me (I suppose this is part of biomechanics), especially variability of these properties.

Full agree, I just simplyfied the matter. The problem you mention is, that science can’t verify these kind of theories, because a humans live is always more than you can control in an defined experimental environment.
(Or put it a very theoretical way: even these theories are only parts of humans lives themselves…)

And predictions about what a man can achieve can be used by institutions to reduce their freedom of choice. Think about young Patrick Johnson showing up at the AIS in Australia telling the guys there: “Hey, I want to become sprinter”.
According to the latest theories they do a muscle biopsy and tell him: “Sorry, you don’t have enough fast twich fibers. Try with the long distance runners…”

A weird example, I know…

wow. Man I liked both of your last posts. Thats it. Also I see that there are unmeasurable things like will. Do you think there is a gene for will. I see some very weak guys get down and train their head offs. I see others who look like superstars lazy and spending the least time training cause its " boring, tiering, etc… ) How would that contribute to success

Regarding Genetics: Watch the movie “Gattaca”

OK, I know the premise may seem dubious to some but for what it’s worth…

I have always tended toward Bob Hayes as my selection for best sprinter genetics but here’s a few items supporting McTear:

  1. McTear ran a hand timed 9.0 in the 100 yard dash in his ‘junior year’ in high school tying the world record. Hayes best 100 yard hand time was 9.1 achieved at age 22.

  2. McTear ran a 10.16 (auto timed) in the 100 meters his ‘senior’ year in high school during the 1976 Olympic trials in Portland, Ore., a legal non-altitude time.

  3. While many sprinters come from poor and uneducated backgrounds Houston McTear was an especially bad case. He grew up very poor. He was known for often running barefoot as a kid and we often heard rumors that he trained that way in high school, probably not true though, however I sometimes wonder what kind of footwear he wore. For that matter I wonder what his training and home nutrition was. Once he left high school his career went downhill. To the best of my knowledge he was too uneducated to qualify for any college support even with his world class speed. No one took the kid and helped get him through those next developmental years and his training faltered. Frought with injuries, probably from poor training, he quickly dropped from the spotlight. It begs the question how far would he have gone with modern scientific training and nutrition methods (and shoes).

Change any minds out there?

A very good film - gotta love the Doc at the end!

Thanks for the film recommendation - I think question of determinism vs. free will is common in films and literature (as well as textbooks), genetic determinism is a scary thought if it is used by ‘the establishment’.

The McTear e.g is amazing if it’s all true (how much training was barefoot, all of it?), still not evidence for genetics, rather biology (which could have been affected by environment as said before.

And fast11_12, to say there is ‘a gene for’ anything is to grossly simplify (or even to completely misunderstand) the process of how DNA/genes function (don’t worry though this is a common mistake even in broadsheet newspapers). This point is made in most of the books I have read on psychology/genetics/evolution.