Nearly every Olympics sees Chinese champions in certain events. They dominate ping pong, gymnastics, shooting, badminton, diving, and weight lifting. The question is why.
We recently explore the athletic head, and used it to explain the racial disparity of some sports. We then looked at the bigger head and used our model to predict and explain the advantages of having a bigger brain in sports. Well, the Chinese brain is the biggest of all.
So why would the group with the biggest brains in the world dominate these sports?
Badminton and ping pong are repetitive and very precise repeated movements. A bigger brain helps make these movements more predictable over time.
More precision under even more pressure. Diving and gymnastics are choreographed. They come down to who can execute the most difficult routines with the most precision.
Even more sleep. With an even larger brain, it takes even longer to cool off.
Less muscle endurance. The brain uses more energy leaving less for the rest of the body.
Why do they dominate weightlifting? You would assume that the smaller brain with the best acceleration would be king here. It’s just not the case.
So lets assume that you have two people that are the exact same strength and exact same weight. One has a larger brain. The lift itself becomes more of a choreographed dance at this point. The lifter who can have the best form, while staying relaxed will lift more weight. The smaller brain, although with a greater ability to accelerate, also has much more room for error. Under duress, the smaller brain could produce less predictable movements. Or worse form. The smaller brain would reach its pressure threshold first, leaving the larger brain the winner.