herald

Sunday 21 October 2018

Finding the right sport for you is now all in the genes

GENES: The DNA test finds a person's sports gene
GENES: The DNA test finds a person's sports gene

A new DNA test is helping people discover the sports to which they are naturally suited.

Developed by Irish and US partners, the test identifies and analyses a person's 'sports gene.'

Genetic Performance, based in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, combines the work of a team of molecular biologists, sports scientists and fitness and nutrition coaches.

The company seeks to deliver information aims to help maximize sports performance, choose sports and exercise to suit an individual's natural abilities and allow training to be adapted to exploit genetic advantage.

Jennifer Burke, a sprint kayaker, living in Dublin, has adjusted her race plan to suit her genetic composition, following a Genetic Performance test.

The world cup medallist, who is in training for the Rio 2016 Olympics, said she has enhanced her performance by focussing more on strength gains in the gym and shifting from a high endurance programme, to one designed to build better lactate tolerance.

Another athlete trying DNA testing is Shane Carty who plays Under-21 football for Dublin.

The Irish company said that genes provide strong markers to which sports an individual is best physiologically suited.

DNA profiling by the company is carried out by a simple swab test. The results can be available around six weeks later following extensive testing.

DEVELOPMENT

People of all ages involved in sports at many different levels can take the test. An individual's unique gene profile will identify the personal, inherited advantages.

The test checks DNA markers for ten sports specific genes that affect endurance capacity, speed, strength and other key athletic markers around aerobic fitness, muscle efficiency and performance.

Individuals may improve their performance in their sport of choice or be directed towards a new more suitable sporting pursuit, said Joseph Dalton, business development director at Genetic Performance.

"Once people identify their genetic barriers, they can avoid sports that require abilities where they are genetically 'weak' or adjust their training to work on the areas which require extra attention," he said.

"Genetic profiling adds a whole new dimension to sports performance, and can optimise training for athletes at all levels."

Mr Dalton, who has a background in martial arts and fitness, and owns the Fitness Hub in Sallynoggin in County Dublin, uses the test to help members of the gym.

"Even before the science confirmed it, people talked about 'born athletes' and it was recognised that particular races or nations excelled in particular sporting disciplines," he said.

"We clearly identify a person's limitations and potential in terms of strength, speed and endurance and thereby highlight the athletic and sporting opportunities where success is a realistic goal."

The company also has offices in the UK and the US.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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