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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 670217, 5 pages
Research Article

Demographic Characteristics of World Class Jamaican Sprinters

1Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston 6, Jamaica
2Institute of Education, University of the West Indies, Kingston 6, Jamaica
3University of Technology, Kingston 7, Jamaica

Received 1 September 2013; Accepted 8 October 2013

Academic Editors: C. Y. Guezennec and T. Noakes

Copyright © 2013 Rachael Irving et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The dominance of Jamaican sprinters in international meets remains largely unexplained. Proposed explanations include demographics and favorable physiological characteristics. The aim of this study was to analyze the demographic characteristics of world class Jamaican sprinters. Questionnaires administered to 120 members of the Jamaican national team and 125 controls elicited information on place of birth, language, ethnicity, and distance and method of travel to school. Athletes were divided into three groups based on athletic disciplines: sprint (s: 100–400 m; ), jump and throw (j/t: jump and throw; ) and, middle distance (md: 800–3000 m; ). Frequency differences between groups were assessed using chi-square tests. Regional or county distribution of sprint differed from that of middle distance ( ) but not from that of jump and throw athletes ( ) and that of controls ( ). Sprint athletes predominately originated from the Surrey county (s = 46%, j/t = 37%, md = 17, C = 53%), whilst middle distance athletes exhibited excess from the Middlesex county (md = 60%). The language distribution of all groups showed uniformity with a predominance of English. A higher proportion of middle distance and jump and throw athletes walked to school (md = 80%, j/t = 52%, s = 10%, and C = 12%) and travelled greater distances to school. In conclusion, Jamaica’s success in sprinting may be related to environmental and social factors.