The Secrets of Jamaican Athletes | Why Do Jamaicans Run Fast

Why Do Jamaicans Run Fast

Now we’re going to explore the secrets to Jamaica’s athletic success at the summer Olympic games. Have you ever wondered why Jamaican athletes run so fast? Jamaicans are known for their speed and athleticism dominating sprint events at international meets. With a reputation as a laid-back regular-loving food nation, It has long been a mystery as to how they are so fast on the track.

The Secrets of Jamaican Athletes

Today we will explore some of the secrets behind Jamaica’s quick success and take a closer look at some of the best-known Jamaican athletes like Usain bolt the fastest human of all time. Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce who is one of the most decorated Olympians and Elaine Thompson the Jamaican sensation of the 2020-2021 summer games. Who completed the double-double in both 100 and 200 meters in Rio and Tokyo.

why Jamaicans run so fast

These are only a small fraction of the Jamaican athletes who have made their mark on the world stage because Jamaican track and field superstars’ success goes back many decades

  • Jamaicans are known for their speed and athleticism dominating sprint events in the world track and field competitions. Some people think that this is because they were born with fast twitch muscles or good training methods. But there’s something else going on here too.
  • Athletics in Jamaica is seen as a ticket to celebrity status and fame. So many youngsters grow up with Olympic dreams at work very hard every day to hone their skills in professions such as running. The Jamaican government is also firmly behind the success of developing athletes by providing financial and technical support to national team members.
usain bolt home

Why are they so fast?

But you might be wondering why these Caribbean islanders run so fast. It turns out that the ingredients for their success are a combination of good genes, and hard work but also some delicious food. What makes them so special? There is one gene that has been labeled as the speed gene ( What is the “speed gene”? The ACTN3 gene is only carried by a small portion of the population – in Europe, only 18%. The gene regulates the ACTN3 protein, which is produced in fast-twitch muscle fibers).

Speed Gene ACTN3

That has been identified by scientists as the reason why Jamaican sprinters run so fast. It also affects athletes from West Africa. It is said that this particular gdf8 gene makes their leg muscles twitch faster than other people’s legs would when they have to sprint across a finish line and it accounts for up to 10 percent of their speed advantage over others in competition. 

  • But that’s not the only thing when looking at this anomaly, It is just scientific. But also hearkens back to the horrors of the past. In recent history when 10 million Africans were removed from their motherland of Africa in the atrocities of the slave trade more than 1 million of them died in the middle passage on the way to the Caribbean.

  • Jamaica was the last stop of this voyage. So the brave souls that survived that voyage and survived that far, Were the toughest of the toughest and some of the most determined of all. 

usain bolt record


So out of our ugly history rise is a nation of warriors, Who from the core of their genetics have come up with natural abilities that far outweigh average athletes, to put it into perspective this twitch gene as it is sometimes referred to helps muscles to generate strong repetitive contractions which are perfect for Sprinting. No, while only 70% of US international standard athletes have this gene 75% of all Jamaicans have this variant. Whether their athletes are not.


What's The Diet of a Jamaican

Jamaica's dominance in the world of sprinting is said to be due at least partially to an interesting hypothesis. There are several biochemical anatomical reasons for this idea but professor Earl Morrison from the university of technology revealed that two staple crops yams and green bananas could have something to do with it, and it's not just the crops that may help but the nutrient-rich soil of Jamaica too. The yam produces hypo steroids which act as stimulants, while the green banana can produce Phytates replenishing energy supplies within our body by boosting metabolism levels.

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  • Dr. Morrison explained that during the running of races on a world level there are likely many athletes with similar speed levels. But they all feed differently when it comes to different stages in their competition due to their stamina. Jamaican runners have an advantage over the countries because of how quickly they can replenish themselves from eating green bananas which gives them more endurance than others.
usain bolt diet foods
  • Dr. Morrison says by 60 meters they start to feed and it’s because we have an advantage of replenishing the phosphate that is allowing us to keep that momentum to the end of the race.

The Jamaican Speed

This ties in quite nicely to what we have seen in the massive 9.58 seconds 100m world record that Usain Bolt achieved at the 2009 world athletic championships in berlin Germany on the 16th of August 2009.  However, this isn’t the norm for this Jamaican athlete a more customary meal would include Jamaican dumplings yum boiled, green banana, rice, and peas with some good old-fashioned jerk chicken.

In recent times another risen Jamaican sprinting superstar is Shelly ann fraser pryce known as the pocket rocket. She was the second fastest woman on the planet until July 31st, 2021. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games where elaine Thompson ran the race of the generation to break americans Griffith joiner flojo’s 33-year-old 100-meter Olympic record to become the fastest woman alive. 

  • Elaine Thompson has a bachelor’s degree in food service management and culinary arts and her favorite dishes are yellow yams. The vegetable that bold had previously attributed as one of the key components of Jamaica’s sprinting achievements and is a staple in her kitchen plus the favorite jerk chicken and rice and peas.
  • The Jamaican national dish Ackee & Sailfish is a regular dish of athletes and many Jamaicans. Well, her daughter’s grandmother makes sausage juice refreshing pineapple berry, and citrus drink, and of course, the banana is grown right at home.
elain thompson hera gold

Thompson-Hera has earned three gold medals in both 100 the 200 and the four by 100 relay at the 2020 Tokyo games held in 2021 to add to her two gold medals and one silver from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio to accomplish the historic double-double. 

That 100-meter race also resulted in another historic clean sweep for Jamaican Elaine coming in first followed by Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce with silver and Shericka Jackson bringing in the bronze to give Jamaica one, two, three out of competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.

Out of 206 countries & 11,000 athletes competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games. Jamaica is a small nation of just only 2.97 million people, Finished number 21st place with nine total medals four goals one silver, and four bronze.
usain bolt

THE VERDICT

So if I go eat a plate of yams I gonna be instantly faster leaner and meaner like my Jamaican counterparts, No definitely not. The Jamaican diet is only part of the story. Genetics, a world-class infrastructure, Supporting the athletes from a young age, and a national fire to be the best all make up reasons as to why Jamaicans are so successful on the track.

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