Genetic Profiles and Prediction of the Success of Young Athletes’ Transition from Middle- to Long-Distance Runs: An Exploratory Study

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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  • 1 Zinman College of Physical Education and Sports Sciences
  • 2 Meir General Hospital
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The aim of the study was to assess whether an aerobic-favoring genetic profile can predict the success of a shift from middle- to long-distance running. Thirteen elite middle-distance runners were divided into successful and nonsuccessful groups in their shift toward long-distance runs. All the runners began their training program at the age of 14–15, and after 6–7 years, changed focus and adjusted their training program to fit longer running distances. The participants’ personal records in the longer events were set at the age of 25–27, about 3–5 years after the training readjustment took place. The endurance genetic score based on 9 polymorphisms was computed as the endurance genetic distance score (EGDS9). The power genetic distance score (PGDS5) was computed based on 5 power-related genetic polymorphisms. The mean EGDS9 was significantly higher among the successful group than the nonsuccessful group (37.1 and 23.3, respectively, p < .005, effect size 0.75), while the mean PGDS5 was not statistically different between the 2 groups (p = .13). Our findings suggest the possible use of genetic profiles as an added tool for determining appropriate competitive transition and specialization in young athletes involved in early phases of talent development.

Ben-Zaken, Meckel, and Lidor are with the Zinman College of Physical Education and Sports Sciences at the Wingate Institute, Netanya, Israel. Nemet and Eliakim are with the Pediatric Dept., Meir General Hospital, Child Health and Sports Center, Kfar Saba, Israel.