Jenny Meadows is a British professional runner who suffered a devastating achilles injury prior to the 2012 Olympics in London. It turns out, Jenny Meadows could have had a chance to compete had she known something important hidden in her DNA. New genetic testing revealed that Meadows is injury prone when it comes to her tendons.
DNAFit is a sports genetic testing company that has developed a revolutionary way to see how athletes predispositions give them an advantage or disadvantage. The DNA testing results, run by Keith Grimaldi who is DNAFit's chief scientific officer, are helping Jenny Meadows, 32, in preparation for the upcoming Commonwealth and European games. Meadows talked about the findings and how they were impacting her future.
"The DNA profile does show I am prone to tendon injuries which I didn't really know, so maybe I could have changed things in my training. Instead of going out running on the road maybe I would have done more cross-training or work in the pool."
Besides determining if an athlete is injury prone, the DNA testing can also reveal certain genetic profiles that may help them excel at certain sports. For Jenny Meadows, the DNA testing revealed she was evenly balanced in terms of speed and endurance. Being balanced is critical for her event, the 800 meter race. Currently, Meadows is the 800 meter indoor European champion.
"The thing that really staggered me was to be exactly 50 per cent speed and 50 per cent endurance, which is absolutely perfect for an 800m runner and perhaps if I had known this I would have concentrated on the 800m a few years earlier instead of pursuing 400m as well."
Jenny Meadows' DNA testing has turned heads in England, where two Barclays Premiere League teams are currently working with DNAFit to take a look at their soccer players. In fact, Grimaldi believes his companies DNA testing could benefit the British team on their way to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
"When the England team go to Brazil we could know in advance who has a very high risk of sunstroke or sunburn, who has a very low risk, and who is in between. That is useful information and it is far better to know it than not... Some are fast over short distances while an endurance footballer is able to cover every blade on the pitch. That may be obvious anyway, but it can help tailor training for the individual player."
The implications of the DNA testing for major sports is far reaching. Imagine if NBA teams could have run similar testing on players like Sam Bowie or Greg Oden, prior to selecting them in the NBA draft? It is possible that this form of DNA testing could become an integral part of formulating the profiles of professional athletes for scouting purposes. Of course, they would have to be willing to agree to the process.
As Jenny Meadows approaches the end of her running career, DNA testing is helping her make decision that may extend how long she keeps going. It's hard to imagine other professional athletes wouldn't be interested in the same information.
[Image via British Athletics]