Monday, April 18, 2005

Isolating the @$$-kicking gene variant

Despite the fact that I no longer compete, I continue to follow what's going on in the world of Olympic-style competitive Taekwondo. Over the last week, the Taekwondo World Championships unfolded, in Madrid. And something pretty damn unbelievable happened: 3 siblings, 2 brothers and their sister, managed to win 3 gold medals. The siblings in question happen to be members of the Lopez family, which the Taekwondo equivalent of the Williams sisters in tennis, except that there are four of them and they actually get to hit their opponents [I think if the Williams sisters were allowed to do that, they'd still be dominant -- those women look scary strong]. One of them, Steven, has so far managed to win 2 Olympic gold medals and 3 World Championship medals, hasn't lost a match in 5 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

You may [or may not] ask yourself "How much of this is due to genetics [ie nature] versus their training environment [nurture] ?". While part of their phenomenal success is undoubtedly due to the fact that they train together [starting out from humble beginnings in a garage (insert Rocky theme music)], I think a very large part of it is due to genetics. Having competed [and lost, badly :-)] at that level before, I can attest to the fact that if you ain't got the "nature", no amount of "nurture" is going to get you there. The only nurturing you're going to be doing is nurturing your bruises ...

I think the Lopez family should submit their DNA for testing to the HapMap consortium, which is trying to characterize the little differences in DNA that make some people more susceptible to certain diseases, respond to drugs etc while others remain unaffected. Seems like they'd be the perfect sample population from which to isolate the gene[s] positively correlated with the ability to literally kick some @$$, relative to the general population.


2 Comments:

Blogger Son1 said...

I'm surprised by how often this happens, actually.. you mention the Williamses, but there's also the "cousin phenomenon" in the NBA (think Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady), the Neville brothers in soccer, the Gait brothers in lacrosse, the three generations of Boones in baseball, and... well, the Detmer brothers in the NFL. I feel like, if I can come up with those examples off the top of my head, there must be many more... and it can't just be a "training together" phenomenon.

Or maybe I'm not so sure... if the prevalence of brothers/sisters/cousins in the pro-sports is higher than expected "at random," which of the two hypothesis would that support?

8:18 AM  
Blogger Corey said...

I've seen you compete. While not at the Olympic level, I think you're plenty effective. Don't sell yourself short!

That 6'8" elephant man you took down in Vancouver ruled. I'd not seen the side of Mongo that doesn't just open 1 can, but 2. =)

You can bail me out of a bar fight anytime.

11:16 PM  

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