*** Shortlisted for William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2013 ***
Is Usain Bolt a superhuman one-off?
Are sports stars like Paula Radcliffe and Tiger Woods born or made?
Could we all be Olympians if we trained hard enough?
And is the answer to be found by looking at Alaskan huskies?
In this ground-breaking and entertaining exploration of athletic success, award-winning writer David Epstein gets to the heart of the great nature vs. nurture debate, and explodes myths about why top sportsmen excel.
Along the way Epstein exposes the flaws in the so-called 10,000-hour rule that states that rigorous practice from a young age is the only route to success. He shows why some skills that we imagine are innate are not - like the bullet-fast reactions of a baseball player - and why other characteristics that we assume are entirely voluntary, like an athlete's will to train, might in fact have important genetic components.
Through on-the ground reports at locations ranging from below the equator to above the Arctic Circle, revealing conversations with leading scientists and Olympic champions, and interviews with athletes who have rare genetic mutations or physical traits, Epstein forces us to rethink the very nature of sport.