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Could you be an Olympic Athlete?


Have the Olympics encouraged you to try a new sport? Check out what your body's idiosyncrasies might make you best at, and spot your hidden sporting talents.

Picture credits: Rex Features and Getty Images

Lung Capacity

How long can you hold your breath? Time yourself with a stopwatch while sitting still – the average person can manage two minutes, absolute tops. If you can do two to three minutes, you're synchronised swimmer potential. They can hold their breath for up to three minutes – while moving.


This measures how lean your body is. Recent analysis at the university of Worcester found the fastest athletes – including usain Bolt – score over 44. To calculate it divide your height by the cubic root of your weight in kilos (go to calculatorsoup.com to do the maths).

Heart Rate

While resting, count your heartbeats for 10 seconds and multiply it by six. A typical resting heart rate is 60-90 – under 60 is a sign of a very fit heart. But in Olympic shooting, competitors try to fire between heartbeats when the body is most stable, so the slower the beat, the more time there is to shoot. archers benefit from a slow heart rate for similar reasons.

2D: 4D Ratio

Measure your index finger from the tip to where it meets your hand, then do the same with your ring finger. A longer ring finger is linked to high levels of testosterone in the womb – studies at Southampton university suggest those who have this (including usain Bolt) run naturally faster.


Ask a friend to hold a ruler vertically between your index finger and thumb, with your thumb at the bottom on zero. When they drop it, try to catch it. Do it three times. The closer to zero you catch it, the better your reflexes – under 15cm is excellent. it could make you good at fast-moving ball sports like table tennis, for example.


Are you positive and open to new experiences? Motivated? Confident? Able to block out distractions? Surrounded by people who support you? Congratulations, you have the psyche of an Olympian, according to research from Loughborough University.

Big hands

Everyone who meets Tom Daley notices how big his hands are. They help him succeed – divers get points for not creating a splash when they enter the water. “Big hands make a bigger hole which makes the entry part of your dive look cleaner,” says UK Sport’s Natalie Dunman.

Long Legs

Legs are shorter than torso in most people. in high jumpers, long jumpers and rowers, though, it’s usually the opposite. Measure yourself standing, then sit on the floor and measure from your crown to the floor. Divide torso by height – if it’s over 0.52 you have long legs.


Flexible ankles and big feet make faster swimmers. It’s no coincidence that australian Ian Thorpe had size 17 feet. How do you tell if you have flexible ankles? Sit on the floor legs outstretched and relax your ankles. The straighter the line between shin and toes, the more flexible your ankles.

Sturdy Thighs

Their swords might be spindly but top fencers’ thighs could crack walnuts. “If you can’t move, you’re a sitting duck,” says the British Fencing Association. “Elite fencers spend up to 75% of their time doing footwork training and so their thighs are the most developed muscle of the lot.”

Short Arms

Your arm span is measured from the tip of one middle finger to the other. if it’s less than your height, you’d have an advantage in weightlifting. "Lifting the weight closer to the body makes you more stable,” says Rae. if it’s more than your height, try rowing, swimming or kayaking.

Left Hand

Left handers have an advantage in martial arts and racket sports that rely on the ability to read your opponent. “Fewer people are left handed, so your opponent won’t have come across as many people whose bodies work like yours, making you more inscrutable” says Natalie Dunman.


If you notice more than the average person, you might excel at tennis. “The best players don’t just hit the ball well, they read their opponent brilliantly,” says the Open University’s Simon Rae. “They notice the smallest changes in body position that help signify where the ball will end up.

Spindly Calves

“One of the reasons Kenyans excel at distance running is believed to be because they have proportionally slimmer calves,” says the University of Worcester’s Andrew Renfree. “This means they lift less weight with each step and so use less energy. Over distance, this really adds up.”

Bendy Fingers

Gently bend your little finger back – does it go more than 90 degrees? Can your thumb bend down to touch your forearm? Hyper-flexible joints can give gymnasts a major advantage. “It’s easier to twist in ways others can’t,” says physiotherapist Paul Hobrough.



My next challenge: London Triathlon



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