And other west Africans too. Frankie Fredericks of Namibia for example. But Joe Volcano is right that the general standard of (mis)governance in west Africa drags down their athletes' prospects in much the same way as it does their wider economies and societies.
As for long distance running, the interesting thing is that even in Kenya and Ethiopia, it's a relatively limited group of communities that produce the top athletes. This makes most people think immediately of a genetic factor. But some scientists say there's no evidence of a particular genetic variation in these communities and that a strong running tradition where everyone wants to be the next star, plus hard work and commitment from an early age, are much more important.
if you want to be the very, very best, you can't get away with being a poor sprinter - if you can't break 16 for the 100m you can't do 18 sec 100m pace for 5k and go sub 15. However, you can be a very good distance runner with poor sprinting speed, i.e: sub 17:30 5k off 16.5 sec 100m speed.
16.5 100m equates to a 13:12 5k, not 17:30, which is an insane pace.
As for the genetics side of things, genes play a part but up to a certain point, you need to put the hardwork in and dedication which is why africans are generally better than everyone else at distance running, its not necessarily their genes, they find running their only way out of poverty so they work hard at it from a young age, plus the training at altitude.
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