Jamaican Athletes are the World’s Best Sprinters
The world’s fastest runners come from Jamaica. In the past decade most of the sprint events have been dominated by male and female runners from the Caribbean island. Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Verona Campbell-Brown are among Jamaica’s world record holders and Olympic gold medalists.
Running has changed in Jamaica. In former times sprinters were poor people who came from the slums. When they saw they had talent they got scholarships at American colleges. They experienced world class training there but, nevertheless, did not feel at home. Today, Jamaica has the money to employ top coaches, so Jamaican sprinters stay at home. Here they are more relaxed and can perform better.
In Jamaica, children start running at a very early age. When they get to school teachers and athletic coaches watch them run and walk. Then, depending on their talent they are sent to track and field clubs. Most of the country’s world class runners started out in the two leading track clubs. At school track meets crowds of teenagers get together to compete with each other. Running is very important in Jamaica and winning a national title or a school championship is something really big.A tough competition may be one of the reasons Jamaicans are so good.
Usain Bolt at the Berlin World Championships in 2009
Another reason for Jamaica’s success on tracks around the world is food. A typical breakfast includes salt fish with yams, bananas and maybe a cup of tea. It contains carbohydrates which runners need to perform well. Nutritionists argue that the diet of Jamaican children is one of the keys to success.
Jamaican athletes are also built differently than non-blacks. They have long legs and little fat. Their narrow hips allow them to lift their knees higher when they run. Many scientists have been researching African and Caribbean runners in order to find out if they have a special gene that makes them faster than the others. However, there is no evidence of such a gene.
The success of Bolt, Powell and others has triggered hype among Jamaican children. These are their idols and they want to be just like them. Hard training and iron will is essential to be among the best in the world.
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- athlete = sportsman, sportswoman
- carbohydrate = something in your food that gives you energy ; it is in potatoes, bread and sugar
- Caribbean = sea between the North America, Central America and the Atlantic Ocean
- championship = a competition to find the best runner
- coach = trainer, sports teacher
- compete = to try to be better than someone else
- competition = fight, battle
- decade = ten years
- depending = something is affected by something else
- diet = food
- dominate = leading
- employ = give work to
- essential = necessary
- evidence = proof , facts
- experience = here: have
- former = some time ago, in the past
- gene = part of a cell that controls what we look like, how we grow and develop
- hip = one of the two parts on the side of your body between your leg and your waist
- however = but
- hype = something that is good or important and which is shown on TV and on the radio; people talk about it a lot
- include = contains
- iron will = to be strong enough to really do something to the end
- key = reason
- leading = number one
- meet = a sports event in which people run in races, jump over bars etc..
- narrow = not wide
- national title = to be the best in your country
- nevertheless = but, on the other hand
- nutritionist = a person who knows a lot about healthy food
- perform = here: run
- relaxed = take it easy, rest
- research = to try to find out about something
- scholarship = money that a school gives you in order to study
- scientist = a person who is trained in science
- slum =area of a city that has bad living conditions and where people are very poor
- sprint = a short race in which runners move very quickly
- success = here: to win
- tough = very hard
- track and field = athletics
- trigger = start
- world record = the fastest time that anyone has ever reached
- yams = a tropical climbing plant ; its root is eaten as a vegetable