A new study has
made an extraordinary claim about sporting success: it's all in the belly
that the position of the belly button shows the body's centre of gravity, and
that a person's centre of gravity rather than their height or weight determines
whether they will have a better natural advantage in running or swimming.
Andre Bejan of Duke University claims that the report explains why black
athletes tend to dominate Olympic sprinting events while white athletes tend to
sweep the medals in the pool.
"What matters is not total height
but the position of the belly-button, or centre of gravity," explained Bejan, the lead author of the study,
which was published in the International Journal of Design and Nature and
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," he said.
that this difference gives individuals of West African origin - whose belly
buttons are on average three centimetres higher than European-origin athletes -
an advantage in sprinting on the track, since their higher centre of gravity
helps them run forwards.
"Locomotion is essentially a continual process
of falling forward, and mass that falls from a higher altitude, falls
faster," Bejan explained.
European-origin athletes have a similar benefit in swimming since longer torsos
help them cut through the water.
is the art of surfing the wave created by the swimmer," said Bejan.
swimmer who makes the bigger wave is the faster swimmer, and a longer torso
makes a bigger wave.
have a three per cent longer torso than West Africans, which gives them a 1.5 per
cent speed advantage in the pool."
added that Asians have similar length torsos as Europeans, but their generally
shorter height is a disadvantage in the pool.
looked at 100 years of records in sprinting and freestyle swimming events from
both men and women, focusing on athletes geographic origins and biology, not
race, in order to tackle what the authors refer to as the "obvious"
race angle in why black athletes dominate sprinting and white athletes