Want to have an Olympian? Shoot for March 23
Britain's Mo Farah celebrates after winning gold in the men's 5000-metre final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012. (AP / David J. Phillip)
Published Monday, August 13, 2012 12:14PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 13, 2012 12:30PM EDT
If the London 2012 Games had you wishing that you, too, could become the latest overnight star when video of you coaxing little Jenny through her floor routine goes viral, take heart. It seems you can increase your odds of being the proud parent of an Olympic medallist, if you focus your baby-making on the month of June.
Reports out of Britain show that some of their most successful Olympians, including London Games double gold medallist Mo Farah, share the same birthday: March 23.
Farah, who won gold in both the men’s 5,000 metres and the 10,000 metres, shares a birthday with Sir Chris Hoy, who has seven Olympic cycling medals, including six gold; cyclist Jason Kenny, who won two track cycling gold medals in London to add to a gold and silver from Beijing; and Sir Steve Redgrave, who won five rowing gold medals at consecutive Olympics, as well as a bronze.
Also born on that day was Roger Bannister, the first man to run a sub-four-minute mile.
The so-called “relative age” theory has been gaining traction in recent years, particularly after the publication of Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 bestseller, “Outliers.”
The theory is that athletes born earlier in the year have greater success because they have an advantage of months of development over their peers.
Many top hockey players, for instance, have birthdays in the first six months of the year, including Wayne Gretzky (January 26), Mark Messier (January 18), Gordie Howe (March 31) and Steve Yzerman (May 9).
Kelly Lockwood, an assistant professor at Brock University’s department of kinesiology, studies the topic, and told Canada AM recently that there are many reasons top hockey players are born earlier in the year.
"When a child is born, how they develop, their rate of development or who they have to compete against is something beyond our control," Lockwood said.
"It's compounded by the fact it's a very physical game, so the kids that grow faster are bigger, faster, stronger, and a little bit more co-ordinated when they are young get noticed.”
Indeed, a recent study of young soccer players in Europe found that more than 43 per cent of them were born in the first three months of the sporting year.
A look at Canada’s medal-winning athletes at the London Games shows a variety of birthdates from January to December. But two members of the silver-medal winning women’s eight rowing team come close to Britain’s magic day: Krista Guloien was born on March 20, and Darcy Marquardt is even closer at March 22.
Alas, Canada’s only gold medallist, Rosie MacLennan, was born on August 28.
So it appears there’s time, should you want to start a new trend.