Usain Bolt wins the men’s 100m final at the Beijing Olympic Games – his speed could be down to the position of his belly button according to a new study.
Sports commentators have long avoided trying to explain why blacks dominate on the running track and whites often finish first in the swimming pool. But scientists in America claim they have come up with a very simple explanation to defy the guardians of political correctness.
They say it’s all down to belly-buttons.
a study suggesting that navel gazing may not be such a waste of time after all, top US university professors claim it’s not important whether an athlete has an ‘innie’ or an ‘outie’ but where his or her navel is in relation to the rest of the body.
They say the belly-button determines the centre of gravity.
According to the report published yesterday in the International Journal of Design and Nature and Ecodynamics, black people’s navels are higher than whites.
That gives them a speed advantage on the track, said the study, but holds them back in the pool.
Given two runners or swimmers of the same height, one black and one white, ‘what matters is not total height but the position of the belly- button, or centre of gravity,’ claims Duke University professor Andre Bejan, the lead author of the study.
‘It so happens that in the architecture of the human body of West African-origin runners, the centre of gravity is significantly higher than in runners of European origin,’ which puts them at an advantage in sprints on the track, he added.
Blacks generally have longer legs than white athletes, which means their belly-buttons are three centimeters higher than whites’, said Professor Bejan.
That means the black athletes have a ‘hidden height’ that is 3 per cent greater than whites’, which gives them a significant running speed advantage.
‘Locomotion is essentially a continual process of falling forward, and mass that falls from a higher altitude, falls faster, the professor explained.
In the pool, meanwhile, whites have the advantage because they have longer torsos, making their belly-buttons lower in the general scheme of body architecture.
‘Swimming is the art of surfing the wave created by the swimmer,’ said Professor Bejan.
‘The swimmer who makes the bigger wave is the faster swimmer, and a longer torso makes a bigger wave.
‘Europeans have a 3 per cent longer torso than West Africans, which gives them a 1.5 per cent speed advantage in the pool,’ he added.
Asians have the same long torsos as Europeans, giving them the same potential to be record-breakers in the pool.
But they often lose out to whites because whites are taller, he explained.
Many scientists have avoided studying why blacks make better sprinters and whites better swimmers because of what the study calls the ‘obvious’ race angle.
But Professor Bejan said the study he conducted with Edward Jones, a professor at Howard University in Washington, and Duke graduate Jordan Charles, focused on the athletes’ geographic origins and biology, not race, which the authors of the study call a ‘social construct.’
Professor Bejan is white, originally from Romania, and Professor Jones is black, from South Carolina.
They charted and analysed nearly 100 years of records in men’s and women’s sprinting and 100-meters freestyle swimming for the study.
Via Daily Mail