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South Korean secret is out: It’s all in the fingers

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By Peter Rutherford 

South Korean women have won every Olympic archery gold medal since 1984, and Beijing will probably be no different, but you might need a PhD in Genetics to explain this kind of dominance.

While the benefits of rigorous training, innovative coaching techniques and heavy financial investment are beyond question, there are some who believe Korean women have a genetic advantage – ultra sensitive fingers. The argument goes that this hereditary trait gives them an edge in sports where “feel” is crucial — such as archery, golf, billiards etc. South Korea does seem to have a production line of ultra-talented female golfers, even though the sport is prohibitively expensive there, while Korean-American Jeanette Lee, aka The Black Widow, is one of the top billiards players in the world.

Yoon Ok-hee, a favourite for archery gold in Beijing, says South Korean women can count on their digits. “Our sensitive fingers, descended from our ancestors, and our spiritual strength and willingness to fight until the very end – they are the secrets,” she told Reuters.

Picture: Yoon practices this week at a training session for the Beijing 2008 Olympics at the Korea National Training Centre in Seoul. Photo by Jo Yong-Hak

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