London Olympics: Selective breeding by slave owners created superior black American and Caribbean sprinters?

Photo:Yohan Blake
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Olympic legend Michael Johnson says a ‘superior athletic gene’ in the descendants of West African slaves means black American and Caribbean sprinters will command the sport at the London Games.

The Olympic gold medallist and BBC commentator said: ‘Over the last few years, athletes of Afro- Caribbean and Afro-American descent have dominated athletics finals.

‘It’s a fact that hasn’t been discussed openly before. It’s a taboo subject in the States but it is what it is. Why shouldn’t we discuss it?’

Some scientists believe a combination of selective breeding by slave owners and appalling conditions meant that only the strongest slaves endured, creating a group predisposed to record-breaking athletic performance.

African slaves underwent a rigorous selection process and only the fittest were transported on ships.

Interestingly, the toughest journey was to Jamaica, the last stop on the slave trail.

Taboo: Usain Bolt was born in Trelawny Parish, Jamaica, where British Olympic boss Lord Coe's plantation-owning ancestor George Hyde Park had 297 slaves

During one voyage in 1732, a staggering 96 per cent of slaves lost their lives – 170 boarded the ship and only six got off.

Jamaican geneticist Dr Rachael Irving said: ‘There was not much oxygen on slave ships so they had to use whatever they had to survive.’

Dr Herb Elliott, doctor to the Jamaican Olympic team, added: ‘Only the most aggressive and fiercest slaves ended up in Jamaica.’ Read full story at:

Video: What makes Jamaicans so fast?


  1. Interesting! I live in America and it seems I'm the 7th generation who has been in America and it seems as we Black Americans recreate the offspring becomes weaker.

  2. And how fast do you run and/or your present or past political position? If when you last ran, you lost, do not blame it on the will of the people maybe it is simply your genes!

  3. Goodness what folly, how about the good Jamaican blue food (complex carbohydrates)and a great training programme?? How does he account then for the Africans who win the marathon year after year??? Sad, if a white person had said this, the right thinking black people would be all over it.

    1. The terrain of Africans (including Arab north Africans) is, well, full of wide open spaces with loads of sand or desert and hills and mountains.

      Is that a clue?

    2. @anonymous - The African marathoners of Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea were the ones that got away. They finally outdistanced the white man by such a great expanse that he simply didn't have the time or the will to chase them any further. At any rate we may also be thankful because if white folks hadn't chased them so far they would not be the great distance runners they are today. Or maybe it was the lions ;)

  4. I'm surprised Johnson said this. He should really stay of away from talks of genetic endowment.

  5. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.


    I'm from Portugal, where this kind of thing happens almost every day on TV. And NO ONE talks about it. The way he turns his head to the side and smiles makes me sick to the stomach. The worst thing about it is there's no discussion whatsoever about if this is right or not. Is it the same in other European countries? I really wanted to know, as I come from a country where there's absolutely no talk about this, but I look at your website and at the press surrounding Billy Crystal at the Oscars and I get a bit disappointed in my fellow countrymen. As people who write about these kinds of issues in Europe, what is the consensus on discussing blackface use in the EU? What do people say about this sort of stuff?

  7. This is nonsense. Why is it that Europeans need to receive any kind of credit for the achievements of Africans (and by that I mean African descendants also)? It is 2012 and many history books (should) have been re-written to include correct information about the amazing achievements in science, mathematics, agriculture, music and yes, sports by Africans looong before any Europeans set foot on the African or American continents. Please-give credit where credit is due. Success of African athletes has nothing to do with "breeding"-the term alone irritates me.

  8. Utter rubbish. What is the excuse for the Kenyans, Somalis and Ethiopians cornering the market in running? There are still tribes in Africa today who hunt animals and simply run them into the ground - no fancy teamwork, no techno nonsense - they just chase them - and keep chasing them for miles and miles. It may well be selective breeding, but it is selective breeding among Africans - the best hunters get the girls! Johnson doesn't know wtf he is talking about.

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