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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2015 Dec 02

language: English

Geographic enrollment of the top 100 in athletics running events from 1996 to 2012

Marc A. 1, Sedeaud A. 1, 2, Schipman J. 1, Antero J. J. 1, 2, Saulière G. 1, 2, Kryger K. O. 1, 3, Toussaint J. F. 1, 2, 4

1 Institute for Research in Medicine and Epidemiology of Sport (IRMES), Paris, France;
2 Paris-Descartes University, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France;
3 Sports Technology Institute, Loughborough University, UK;
4 Center for Investigation in Medicine and Sport (CIMS), Hôtel-Dieu, Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France


PURPOSE: It is widely accepted in the literature that athletes of West African origins achieve the best sprint performances; while, athletes originating from East Africa are the most efficient at long distances. No epidemiological studies have measured the evolution of the contributing of each of these athlete origin groups from 100m to the marathon.
METHOD: Speed, morphology and geographic origin of the Top 100 male and female athletes (from 100m to the marathon) were collected and analyzed over the 1996-2012 period.
RESULTS: The amount of male sprinters (100m, 200m and 400m) originating from West Africa increased from 57.7% in 1996 to 72.3% in 2012, while female sprinters from West Africa increased from 55% to 65% over the same period. This contribution has gradually increased from 400m to 100m for both sexes. For long distance events (3000m, 10000m and marathon), male athletes from East Africa represented 32% in 1996, which increased to 65.7% in 2012 and increased over the same period from 9% to 39% for women. In addition, male and female sprinters originating from West Africa have a significantly higher (p<0.05) BMI than athletes of other geographic origin. Conversely, long distances runners' BMI are significantly lower for runners with an East African origin (p<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: The best performances are dominated by a few groups including the West African ancestry for the sprint distances and East African runners for the long distances. This dominance is strengthened from 1996 to 2012 for both sexes to the detriment of Caucasian and Asian athletes.

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