I recently learned that Michael Johnson, former USA 200m, 400m world record holder, had a stroke.
In 2012 Johnson articulated the onerous warning, in his documentary Survival of the Fastest, that descendants of slaves who are sprinters and possess the fast-twitch gene, actinin 3, might be prone to diabetes, hypertension and cardiac-related problems.
I was a part of the documentary and had told him that based on a DNA analysis, he had similar copies (alleles) of the fast-twitch gene and that this genotype might be related to the history of diabetes in his family. Johnson went to his room at Strawberry Hills stunned that night, knowing that the very genes that helped him to set world records might one day predispose him to a stroke. Our lab at The University of the West Indies, Mona, has constructed a metabolic map that interlinked some inherited genes involved in sprinting and chronic diseases.
We came up with a novel way of detecting stalled performance or the “Detraining Syndrome” in athletes. On Saturday, November 24, 2018, my former PhD student Dr Aldeam Facey was awarded the Prime Minster's Youth Award for Excellence in Innovation, Science and Technology. He has done a fantastic body of work on energy mal-programming in diabetics and athletes. There are a group of Jamaican athletes, many of them former Champs standouts and World Youth champions, who have reached a stage where they cannot improve their performance (time) regardless of the rigours of training. These are young men/women between the ages of 22-28 years.
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