The Sports Gene

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance tackles the role of nature versus nurture in the development of elite athletes. (Penguin Group)

What genes help determine your chances of reaching the podium? Is it really true that you can become an expert at anything in 10,000 hours? Are genes the reason some countries dominate certain sports? Is it a good idea to screen children for their athletic potential using genetic testing?

Certain genetic traits do help give some people an advantage in certain sports, says American journalist David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance.

In particular, "no two people respond exactly the same way to training," he said in interview with Bob McDonald, host of CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks. But that also highlights the key role that the environment plays.

In his interview, Epstein discusses the range of factors that help someone become an elite athlete and the scientific studies that have helped uncover the role of specific genes.

He also offers advice to young athletes who one day hope to own the podium.