Jamaica houses around 2.8 million people — that’s about 1/3 the population of New York City — yet the country’s athletes dominate the sprint scene around the world. The 2009 documentary Why Do Jamaicans Run So Fast? embarks on a journey to discover what it is about Jamaican culture or its athletes that produces such phenomenal running talent.

The documentary follows Jamaican track and field athletes months before the 2008 Olympics at the Jamaican National Trials, during the Beijing Olympic Games, and through their return to Jamaica at the Norman Manley International Airport. In attempting to answer the title question, the documentary captures the spirit of the country and its residents’ enthusiasm for the sport of track and field. Also featured are world-class athletes like 100- and 200-meter world record holder Usain Bolt and reigning 100-meter World and Olympic champion Shelly Ann Fraser.

Watch a 10-minute clip from the documentary below.

Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt

Genre: Documentary
Director: Miquel Galofré
Writer: Laura Carulla
Producer: Fernando Garcia Querejeta


    • It is in the yams, the plantains and the beans! Give some researchers money, they’ll ind out what chemical this is/

    • In the USA, Blacks are only 11 percent of the population. Having been told that at one time 48 percent of this country’s 50 fastest 100-meter-dash men were black and the 49th had one black parent, I called the appropriate organization for current figures. The person in charge told me he doubted this was any longer true; he couldn’t think of any white runner in the top 50!

      It is telling that we speak here of the single event in track and field for which training and practice play the smallest role; the importance of reflex and the anaerobic nature of the event leave relatively little room for the sort of improvement practice affords the marathon runner.

      Likewise, the jumping ability blacks exhibit on the basketball court is not attributable to black parents telling their children to ”jump, jump, jump or you’ll never get out of the ghetto.” You may mock ”the black basketball players’ joke that there is a white man’s disease: inability to jump,” but that hardly makes the insight of the joke – that physiology is in all likelihood responsible for the superior black jumping ability – any less true.

  1. Social science, offers more insight into why blacks prevail in track, basketball and football: more blacks are poor; those sports are accessible and potentially lucrative.

  2. There’s a tribe in Kenya, whatever the name is, they also number about 3 million, and they have won more than 40 % of those long races, is it 1500 or 3000? I don’t know, but yes, bat that. Aren’t Armenians poor? Aren’t Chinese poor? Why can’t they do it? Even other black populations are not all good at sports, look at West Africans and People of West-African descent mainly African Americans, they are superior to everyone at power sports, then comes the East Africans at endurance long distance stuff. Black people have superior genes, but not every black person has it or has all of it.
    But you can bet this, given anything, the person out there who’s best at it is……….eeeeehmmm, BLACK!

    • The tribe you are referring to is called the Kalenjin! Over the past 10 years they have won 40% of the top international honours for mens distance running events.

  3. @ Kaisey
    The unfortunate thing is that the majority of sociologists – certainly those whose areas are far removed from the study of race and athletics – would probably support your response.
    But this is merely testimony to the pathetic state of sociology, a discipline in which ideological requirement and psychological need have come to replace evidence as the condition for acceptance of fact and explanation.

    While Jewish boxers, Irish football players and the like have demonstrated that poverty can engender athletic performance disproportionate to population representation, it is ludicrous to attempt to explain the astonishing athletic performance of blacks in such terms.

  4. A little less than 20 years ago, Jimmy the Greek was fired for attempting to answer this question honestly on the CBS Evening News.

    “The black is the better athlete. And he practices to be the better athlete and he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes back to the slave period. The slave owner would breed this big black with this big black woman so they could have a big black kid. That’s where it all started.”

  5. The alleged ”functional differences” are in physique, musculature, metabolic efficiency, hormone levels and reaction time. Entine cites credible research, for example, that blacks of West African ancestry (which would include most African-Americans) have a higher ratio of ”fast-twitch” muscle fiber than whites do, which gives them an edge at leaping and sprinting. East African blacks have more energy-producing enzymes in their muscles and seem to process oxygen more efficiently, which translates into greater aerobic endurance.

    But why conclude that such differences are encoded in the genes? Mightn’t there be an environmental explanation? It is true that Kenyans have won every Boston Marathon since 1990, but these runners come from a mountainous region whose altitude is perfect for building aerobic capacity.

    • Norwegians live and have lived in massive mountainous lands. Google some images about Norway! And the people are massive, tall, mascular and all than any group of whites or Europeans. In fact, the quitessential tall, pretty, handsome, blonde hair and blue eyed.
      Norway also has had a huge government effort to produce top athletes for the olympics and world championships. But you know who’s their best 100m runner?
      A friend of mine from Nigeria, her names is Ezinne, she was born and bread in Norway, this mountainous region.
      Now I ask ya, what the f*ck are you talking about?

      • In fact, they tried to recruit another friend of mine from Ethiopia for their long distance efforts. Why can’t they just train those tall blonde gals? I don’t get it.

  6. In his book,”Taboo,” Jon Entine, a journalist, brings this evidence together to make a painstaking case that race and genetics are indeed ”significant components” of the ”stunning and undeniable dominance of black athletes.”

    The book, a highly readable blend of science and sports history, had its origins in a 1989 NBC television documentary on black athletes that Entine wrote with Tom Brokaw. That show drew charges of racism when it was broadcast, and everybody should get a copy of ”Taboo”, judging from all the space he devotes to defending his decision to write it.


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