Author David Epstein discusses nature versus nurture in sports on Radio CaptainU

In 2006, Donald Thomas walked onto a track for the first time and cleared 2.22 meters, one of the best high jumps in history. In 2007, he won the World Championships and beat Stefan Holm, who had likely performed more high jumps than any human in history. Holm’s father described Thomas’s victory as an insult to the sport. And yet, something fascinating was at work, a fundamental question of genetics, practice, and the multitude of paths that exist to athletic excellence.

On this episode of Radio CaptainU, we interview David Epstein, former writer at Sports Illustrated and author of The Sports Gene. Our discussion includes perspectives from Epstein on:

  • Whether success in sports is more about nature or nurture
  • What to do if you don’t have Donald Thomas’s innate ability
  • How athletes can find the sport that’s best for them
  • Why young athletes should wait to specialize

Finally, here’s some eye candy. First: Stefan Holm’s refined high jump technique, honed over years of practice. Second: Donald Thomas’s incredible athleticism on display from one of his first meets.