Olympic Legend Michael Johnson: Slave Heritage Gave Me Superior Athletic Skill

Unlike most U.S. Olympic athletes who credit their coach, hard work, extraordinary willpower, an excellent – albeit restricted – diet, maybe even God for their success, record-breaking legend Michael Johnson says that he primarily owes his athletic prowess to something else: the fact that he is a descendent of slaves.

Johnson is an Olympic gold medalist and one of the greatest sprinters of all time, notes TMZ. When asked about his talent, he credited “superior athletic gene” in the descendants of West African slaves that makes black American and Caribbean sprinters shoe-ins for Olympic gold. “Over the last few years, athletes of Afro- Caribbean and Afro-American descent have dominated athletics finals,” Johnson explained. “It’s a fact that hasn’t been discussed openly before. It’s a taboo subject in the States but it is what it is. Why shouldn’t we discuss it?”

“All my life I believed I became an athlete through my own determination, but it’s impossible to think that being descended from slaves hasn’t left an imprint through the generations,” adding, “Difficult as it was to hear, slavery has benefited descendants like me — I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us.”

Crazy as it might sound, there might actually be some science behind it. Some scientists believe that a combination of selective breeding by slave owners and horrible living conditions made a sort-of “survival of the fittest” scenario with only the strongest slaves coming out on top, thus passing superior athletic traits to their children. Why the Caribbean? Jamaica was actually the last stop on the slave trail, notes Daily Mail. In one 1732 trip, 96% of the slaves lost their lives thanks to the miserable transportation conditions. Of 170 slaves, only 6 walked off the ship.

Do you think Michael Johnson is right on this? Are his comments offensive?