Retired Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson believes there is a scientific reason that explains why so many of the top sprinters in the world are black. The four-time gold medalist, now a commentator for BBC, believes slave descendants have genes that make them superior athletes.
"All my life I believed I became an athlete through my own determination, but it’s impossible to think that being descended from slaves hasn’t left an imprint through the generations," Johnson said on a documentary called "Michael Johnson: Survival Of The Fastest," according to the Daily Mail.
"Difficult as it was to hear, slavery has benefited descendants like me – I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us."
According to the Daily Mail, some scientists support that notion. Their report states that only the fittest and strongest African people were picked to board the slave ships. Once aboard the ships, conditions were so terrible that only the strongest/healthiest/fittest people of an already select group survived. Additionally, the Daily Mail says some scientists believe that some slave owners selectively bred to create even stronger and more athletic people, which set the groundwork for dominant athletes decades later.
The documentary states that 14 of the 15 100-meter finalists at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing were descendants of slaves. Johnson is of West African descent, a DNA test confirmed.
The former "world's fastest man" recognizes this is a controversial subject matter, but that doesn't prevent him from exploring it.
"It’s a taboo subject in the States but it is what it is. Why shouldn’t we discuss it?" he wonders.
In 1988, Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder posited that:
"The black is a better athlete to begin with because he's been bred to be that way, because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs and he's bred to be the better athlete because this goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trade'n the big… the owner… the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid see."
He was fired in 1988 by CBS for the comments.
Below is a clip teasing the documentary, which aired last week on Channel 4 in the U.K.
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