Earlier: The Single Most Amazing Number in Human Biodiversity Studies: 72 Black 100 Meter Finalists In EIGHT Consecutive Olympics
When informed of the massive racial gaps among top male sprinters, a common response is to argue that blacks must just be trying harder than anybody else, working out endlessly.
But sprinting, I respond, requires less toil in practice that just about any other well-known undertaking. I usually cite a 1984 Sports Illustrated article that I recall as saying that Carl Lewis only worked out 8 hours per week to get ready to win four gold medals at the Los Angeles Olympics: 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay, and long jump.
As usual, with anecdotes from decades ago, when I looked up the original online in Sports Illustrated, I found I didn’t get it quite right:
JULY 18, 1984
AS A FAVORITE TO WIN FOUR GOLD MEDALS IN TRACK AND FIELD, CARL LEWIS IS THE DEFINITION OF MULTITALENTED, BUT HE’S DEFINITELY A SINGULAR MAN
… Those who consider him the world’s greatest athlete might be startled at how little it takes, physically, to be that. Five days of practice a week, two hours a day, 45 minutes of bona fide work, an hour and 15 minutes of bona fide play. Weekends off. He lifts weights rarely, because he doesn’t like to. Goethe says, “It is not doing the things we like to do, but liking the things we have to do, that makes life blessed.” Lewis says the hell with that.
“Practice,” he says, “is a social event. It’s better to underwork than overwork. That’s why I haven’t gotten injured. People don’t know how to listen to their bodies.