A specific genetic factor that strongly influences human physical performance has not so far been reported, but here we show that a polymorphism in the gene encoding angiotensin-converting enzyme does just that. An ‘insertion’ allele of the gene is associated with elite endurance performance among high-altitude mountaineers. Also, after physical training, repetitive weight-lifting is improved eleven-fold in individuals homozygous for the ‘insertion’ allele compared with those homozygous for the ‘deletion’ allele.
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