During the Olympics you suddenly hear Human Biodiversity arguments in favor of More Immigration. After all, Americans are too genetically pathetic to medal in distance running, so we should just hire East African mercenaries to run for the USA the way Persian Gulf states do.
From the NYT:
Why Is the Country’s Most Dominant Distance Runner Not in Rio?This Cheserek is a Kenyan farmboy, who claims to be 22, who runs for the U. of Oregon and wins a lot of NCAA championships. His handlers tried to get him fast track citizenship, but it didn’t come through in time for the Olympics.
Edward Cheserek came to the United States from Kenya with hopes of competing in the Olympics — if only he could become a citizen.
By NOAH GALLAGHER SHANNON AUG. 19, 2016
But as news of Cheserek’s pending citizenship circulated, the track community began to weigh in on his case. Perhaps Cheserek is older than he says, some fans speculated, giving him the prowess of a more mature athlete; others insisted that American records and Olympic berths achieved by runners of East African descent should be asterisked, because of what some perceived to be an unfair genetic advantage. Despite his story’s makings of athletic folklore, his reception among fans now seemed to hang largely on a bureaucratic question — should American athletics traffic in citizenship? …One reason that goes unmentioned is that a Kenyan farmboy with poor grades in his native language and poor English isn’t exactly college scholarship material in an American classroom. Colleges that want top American basketball and football players like Dean Smith’s North Carolina set up African-American Studies programs to ease athletes through. But at least D’Sqhwan speaks English.
After winning a prestigious 10,000-meter race, word of Cheserek’s talent passed to Father Richard Quinn, who ran an education charity in Nairobi. A filmmaker and jazz musician, Quinn had come to East Africa from New Jersey in the mid-’50s, founding Stadi za Maisha (“life skills” in Swahili) as a project to identify gifted children and even give some of them the opportunity to study abroad. Though Cheserek’s grades and grasp of English weren’t impressive, Quinn could sense he was special.
Cheserek is a member of the Marakwet, a subgroup of the legendary Kalenjin, or “running tribe.” Since the 1960s, this tiny ethnic minority has come to dominate global distance running as perhaps no other ethnic group has dominated a sport. Anyone who has watched a recent major marathon has noticed the pack of spindly men and women striding way out in front. But the real awe lies in the arcana. Fewer than 20 American men have run 2:10 or faster in the marathon; but as David Epstein, author of “The Sports Gene,” pointed out to NPR, “There were 32 Kalenjin who did it in October of 2011.” Such a small and potent font of talent has inspired its own field of research, whose studies cover such diverse areas as evolutionary biology — which has lately focused on the development of long, slender limbs — and ethnography.
Fed up watching Americans celebrate midpack finishes, Nike and other sponsors began in the ’00s to fund training groups assembled specifically to break the East African stranglehold on distance running. Around that time, publications like Letsrun.com and Track & Field News and others began benchmarking the progress of American-born runners. When in May 2010 Chris Solinsky broke the American record for the 10,000 meters, running 26:59, he was celebrated as “the first white man to crack 27 minutes for 10,000 meters.”
By the time Cheserek arrived at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark in 2010, some in the track community had long been wondering out loud if America should be expending educational resources on Kenyans, who might later line up opposite the country in the Olympics. (Cheserek didn’t intend to compete on the Kenyan team, in part because it was doubtful he would qualify.) Even while the percentage of foreign athletes in the N.C.A.A. held steady around 2 percent — a tiny sliver of whom are Kenyans — critics like the Olympic great Carl Lewis stoked fears of a foreign invasion. Soon a kind of embargo logic took hold. “When I was a teenager, the cool guys in town built their fast, sexy cars in their own garages,” says Mark Wetmore, a five-time N.C.A.A. Coach of the Year at the University of Colorado. “The dorks had their fathers buy them at the Camaro dealership.” As Cheserek began his college search in 2012 as one of the fastest high-school students the sport had seen in decades, only a handful of schools actively recruited him. (Someone of his caliber might normally be courted by as many as 20.) Marty Hannon, Cheserek’s high-school coach, told me that at least one coach said, “We’re not interested in a Kenyan.”
The U. of Oregon, however, with the financial backing of Phil Knight of Nike, is willing to do what it takes:
This perhaps explains why the University of Oregon is so protective of the young runner. Our timed, one-hour meetings were arranged through Oregon staff members who waited outside, on separate occasions, to help the business major with his taxes and drive him the 10-odd blocks home. This style of hands-on management has made Cheserek an enigma to an already insular and suspicious track community. At races, Cheserek is often whisked away before talking to the press, and when he does talk, his words are couched in the first-person plural: “We always go one thing at a time.” “We” is an amalgamation of Oregon teammates and coaches, but also Hannon and his assistant coach, Chelule Ngetich, who have taken charge of Cheserek’s immigration paperwork.But the NYT article gets back on track by pointing out how the critics of the U. of Oregon are the Real Racists for objecting to Oregon’s search for Racially Superior Foreign Genes:
In track, as in the country at large, the question of who gets to represent the United States has become steeped in innuendo. In 2009, when the Eritrean-born American runner Meb Keflezighi became the first American to win the New York City Marathon in 27 years, some argued the feat was an adulteration. “He’s like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league,” wrote Darren Rovell, then of CNBC. As word of Cheserek’s bid for citizenship got out, he began to read similar things about himself. In the absence of more traditional media, the forum at Letsrun.com functions like track’s gossip newsroom. There, users vented about the Kenyan arriviste. The idea that Cheserek might be America’s next great runner, one user wrote, is a “SLAP in the face to Real American Winners.”Meanwhile, a story that hasn’t gotten much publicity is that actual American white distance runners have been doing pretty well at these games at Shattering Stereotypes about Racial Supremacy. The East Africans are still out front, but genuine Americans have been surprisingly competitive
Many of these posts advanced the idea that Cheserek had lied about his age. … Bernard Lagat, a Kenyan-born American Olympian who has faced criticism over his own naturalization, likened this kind of antagonism to those tireless suspicions regarding President Obama’s birthplace. “It’s just because he’s affiliated with Africa,” he said.
All sports labor under the burden of racist innuendo. But running’s deeper strains of nativist nostalgia seem to have something to do with how rudimentary the sport is. Stripped of teams, positions and points, a foot race can look a lot like a contest between physiologies, rendering its contestants avatars of their ethnicities, to the point where the singlet can be, to some eyes, almost incidental. “I did well at the World Cross Country Championships,” recalls Simon Bairu, a Canadian Olympian of Ethiopian-Eritrean heritage, “and I magically became ‘the Ethiopian’ overnight.”
Emma Coburn won a bronze in the women’s steeplechase.
Or how about Americans Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury coming in 3rd and 4th in the women’s 1500?
Clayton Murphy won a bronze in the 800m, admittedly not as much of a surprise, because that’s a distance where the most racial groups are competitive.
That’s four white Americans born in America who have medaled in events usually dominated by East Africans. But for some reason, what they’ve accomplished can only be talked about in euphemistic terms.