Why do Jamaicans Run So Fast?

“Why do Jamaicans Run So Fast?” So asks Fernando Garcia-Guereta (Nando) in his documentary to honor Bolt and Jamaica’s athletes’ exploits. With a “little feeling” that something big was going to happen at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, the Spanish music producer-come-filmmaker began filming his tribute months before the Olympics. We tap into his premonition to tell the story of Jamaican athletics and the island’s re-branding from sun-soaked ganja-loaded brethren to world-crushing athletes.

This is Jamaica so of course there’s a sound track. As Garcia-Guereta tells it: “Heptones’ Country Boy matched Bolts origins, Bob Marley’s Bad Card reminds the world that dem a go tyaad fe see Bolt face, Movado reminds Melaine Walker not to forget about the Gully, Bugle ask Carl Lewis what have Bolt done to him, and Jah Cure seh as long as I live he will remember those days.”

Annie Paul on The Boy with the Golden Shoes here

And more on Fernando Garcia-Guereta here.

2 Responses to “Why do Jamaicans Run So Fast?”
  1. Jennifer 10 February 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    as an infographic we could have the top ten theories on why Jamaicans run so fast – from yams and genetics to the length of their ring fingers (http://fingerlengthdigitratio.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/why-jamaican-sprinters-run-fast-usain-bolt-asafa-powell-have-the-long-ring-finger/)

  2. Jennifer 11 February 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Actually, one angle for the story could be to explore the pseudoscience around Black athletic performance. (This could incorporate the Kenyan sprinters story as well.)

    Could work for the science section.

    “Jamaican thinker Martin Henry is looking in the animal kingdom and observes that the aggressive animals are the speedy ones. He believes that if there is a positive correlation between speed and aggression in a gene pool it could also explain why Jamaicans are so violent.”


    “Runners of West African descent—which includes Jamaicans as well as most African-Americans—seem to be built for speed.One study conducted in Quebec in the 1980s found that black West African students had significantly higher amounts of “fast-twitch” muscle fibers—the kind that are responsible for short, explosive bursts of action—than white French Canadians did…70 percent of Jamaicans have the ‘strong’ form of the ACTN3 gene—which produces a protein in their fast-twitch muscle fibers that has been linked to increased sprinting performance.”


    “Bolt’s father credited the local yam for his son’s success…”


    “new finger research points out that a long ring finger (low 2D:4D ratio) relates to athletic ability”

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