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Factors Affecting The Performance of an Athlete

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The ACE gene provides instructions for making a protein called angiotensin-converting enzyme. This converts a hormone called angiotensin I to another form called angiotensin II. Angiotensin II serves to control blood pressure and may also influence skeletal muscle function. The ACE gene possesses a variation called the ACE/ID polymorphism which serves to alter the activity of the gene. An individual may also possess two copies of a version called the D allele, also known as the DD pattern. It can also exist as two copies of a version called the I allele, known as the II pattern, or one copy of each version, called the ID pattern. When comparing the three patterns, the DD pattern is associated with the highest levels of angiotensin-converting enzyme. The DD pattern is also thought to be related to a higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers and greater speed. The ACTN3 gene on the other hand provides instructions for the production of a protein alpha (О±)-actinin-3, which is predominantly found in fast-twitch muscle fibers. There is a variation of this gene called the R577X that leads to the production of an abnormally short О±-actinin-3 protein that is quickly broken down. Some people possess this variant in both copies of the gene, this genetic pattern or genotype is known as 577XX. Individuals who possess this have an absence of (О±)-actinin-3, this is said to reduce the number of fast-twitch muscle fibers, while increasing the proportion of slow-twitch muscle fibers. The 577RR genotype is associated with a higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers and is commonly found in short distance runners. Hence, the ACE D/D gene and ACTN3 R/R gene are more suited towards power-related performances such as sprinting due to the greater presence of fast-twitch muscle fibers^. The ACE I/I gene and ACTN3 X/X gene on the other hand are more suited towards endurance-related performances due to the greater proportion of slow-twitch muscle fibers.

The optimal sprinting height is said to be anywhere from 180 cm and above. Both athletes were of the average weight, however one had the significant height advantage. Hence, it is obvious that this would have contributed to the difference in timings as the taller athlete would have a longer stride and be able to produce more power. In order to produce a far distance in the sand pit, speed is required as well as strong leg muscles and a lean body, which is effectively the exact same as what a good sprinter would need, hence showing the difference in results as well.

From ages 13 – 18 is where an athlete experiences their largest growth in their genetic potential as that is the period that they are undergoing puberty. Hence, age does indeed affect the results as the athlete has more time for their body to grow and mature. Age only serves as a detrimental effect once they hit their peak of 26 and above. This is known as the aging effect and an athlete’s physical ability would slowly decline as they age past this barrier.

Training is the most obvious factor that would affect results. An athlete who has been training longer would have more time to build up their genetic potential and hence produce better results. Exception do occur with athletes who are naturally gifted and talented at a specific sport, but generally speaking the more and harder you train, the better your body adapts and grows, improving performance. Results These results are however very superficial as the experiments only cover 6 athletes, barely touching the surface of an actual scientific experiment. This is not enough to provide accurate results as my experiments do not cover a wide spectrum of athletes or the large multitude of factors.

Another loophole in my experimentation would include the fact that we are not able to accurately tell how these factors specifically affect performance of an athlete. We know that these factors affect performance but unless we have a multitude of athletes with difference abilities that allow for large comparisons, it would not be possible to get a very accurate understanding of how these factors specifically change or affect a performance. These inaccuracies however have already been minimized by finding athletes that have all the same factors with only the one being tested being changed. In order to further substantialize my investigation, I would have to look into professional athletes to see how the factors I am testing actually affect their performance in their sport, mainly track & field. Internet Research Basketball is a physically demanding sport where height is the most important aspect to the game. The average height in the NBA is 2.01m, basically meaning that every athlete towers over the average human.

In the 72 years of NBA* history, there have only been 24 players recorded at 175 cm or under (5 foot 9 inches). Even with hard work it would be nearly physically impossible to compete with athletes over 30 cm taller than you. Among these 24 players those who have performed well and succeeded can be counted on 1 hand and are only barely able to keep up compared to those more genetically gifted athletes who may put in lesser or similar effort. Height however is also not the only thing that determines an athlete’s performance as there have been many basketball players over 2 meters that have failed in the NBA. Physicality and skill that comes with constant practice also defines a good player as shorter athletes make up for their lack of height by constantly practicing their ball handling or shooting ability, making up for their inability to dunk and muscle others off the ball as taller players tend to possess more physicality due to their larger mass and weight. Track & Field is also a physically demanding sport as it comprises of many different specialties. Certain physical attributes are necessary for certain sports in this case as Track & Field can range from Jumping and running to throwing. To top it off, every single one of these specialties has a very distinct set of skills, which puts decathlon* athletes in high regard. In a 100m dash, being too tall would diminish an athlete’s ability to start off the blocks as fast compared to shorter athletes, however this is made up for in the later stages of the race.

This can be seen in Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, who stands at a staggering 1.95m tall. Usain Bolt is always slow off the blocks and only starts to reach top speeds towards the 60m part of the race, where he completely dominates the rest of the field due to his tall stature and wide strides. Usain Bolt holds the world record for the 100m and 200m and due to his tall frame, he completed his world record run in 41 strides, compared to Tyson Gay’s 45, who came in second. Coupled with his gifted athleticism and at an age of 24*, Usain Bolt was at his prime, evident as he broke the world record for the 100m and 200m in the same year. His height had enabled him to complete the race in 4 less strides while coming in at a much faster timing.

To top it off, Usain Bolt was also leading the field off the blocks, something rarely seen due to his tall stature, which was what raised doubts in him originally taking up the 100m. Despite his great genetics, he was not really suited for sprinting due to his height and in fact originally took up longer distances such as the 200m and 400m as it fully utilized his tall stature. However, Usain Bolt made up for his slow starts by practicing repeatedly over and over again in order to minimize the time lost off the blocks compared to other athletes. It was only through constant practice and some lucky genetics that enabled Usain Bolt to be the fastest in the world. The lucky genetics in a way is debatable as it made him unsuited for the 100m dash as his coach originally thought, but he made up for this with constant effort and training, eventually also putting his genetics to good use.

As we all know, there have been many world records in Track & Field that have been broken over the years. Every single official race record regardless of gender ranges from the 1980s to the 2000s, with no record standing longer than that. This is more than clear evidence to prove that better equipment and technology improved performance in athletes. From better training regimes to specialized shoes, athletes would obviously perform much better. For instance, in the 100m sprint, the oldest world record in 1891 was a timing of 10.80s. This is considered mediocre in this present era, even slower than the Singapore National Record for this event, 10.37s. The world record today is 9.58s, recorded in 2009, a century difference and the once thought impossible has been accomplished as breaking the 10-second barrier is now something that occasionally happens amongst the top male athletes. This is no exception even for female sprinters as the world record set in 1922 of 13.6s now stands at 10.49s set in 1988. These significant differences are the result of decades of genetic improvement, nutrition and technological advances. Certain conditions such as the wind speed and weather condition will also affect performance. In nearly all track and field events, wind will be a heavy influence on the results and performance of an athlete. Hence, for most of these sports, a wind speed exceeding +*2.0m/s will be considered not legal, and would not be eligible for records, but would still be allowed to stand. A tailwind will assist the athlete or object in motion and hence cause the production of much better results and a headwind works the opposite, resisting the object or athlete in motion.

Altitude also affects the performance of an athlete as every athlete trains under different settings, many not being used to high altitude levels as oxygen at the level is thinner, making it harder for athletes to breathe. This however benefits sprint athletes as there is less air resistance and since sprint athletes already have all the necessary oxygen for the short dash in their bloodstream and muscles, the thin air would not affect them much. Lastly, the reaction time of an athlete would also greatly affect the results in a race, mainly 200m and below as these races are relatively short and even a millisecond difference could set apart the winner. However, predicting when the gun would be fired is not a viable strategy as anyone who sprints off the blocks before 0.1 seconds is immediately disqualified as it is physically impossible to have a reaction time faster than that when including in factors such as the time taken for the gun sound to reach the athlete’s ears.

False starting was also an actual strategy used before 2010 as athlete’s with slower reaction times would intentionally false start, hence affecting the other athletes and gaining a psychological advantage as other athletes would then make sure to hear the gun sound before running as the next athlete that false starts after them would be disqualified. Fortunately, this was changed in 2010 to immediately disqualify the sprinter who was responsible for the false start. Furthermore, once the athlete is in the set motion which is in a sequence of commands, readyв, set and finally go, the athlete is not allowed to move or even twitch as this could affect another athlete and this would result in disqualification.


At 24 years of age, Usain Bolt was considered to be at the peak or near the peak of his career. Tailwind/Headwind- a positive reading +0.0 and above would be a tailwind, while a negative reading -0.00 and below would be a headwind. Fast-twitch muscle fibers make use of anaerobic metabolism, which is the creation of energy in the absence of oxygen. This produces quick and powerful bursts of speed, hence also causing the athlete to tire faster. This muscle fiber is more suited towards sprinters due to excelling at producing the necessary powerful and quick bursts of speed needed for a sprinter in a short distance run. Slow-twitch muscle fibers on the other hand are efficient at the usage of oxygen to produce more Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) fuel for continuous and extended use of muscle contractions. They are able to continue on much longer compared to fast-twitch fibers, allowing the athlete to fatigue at a slower rate. This muscle fiber is more suited towards marathon runners due to excelling at producing the necessary energy for a marathon over a continuous and extended period of time.

Olympic athletes also tend to go into sports that match their genetic makeup. 80 percent of muscle fibers of Olympic sprinters are fast-twitch compared to that of the marathon runners who possess 80 percent slow-twitch muscle fibers.

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Factors Affecting the Performance of an Athlete. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 6, 2022, from
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