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How to Build a Superhuman Athlete

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A Natural Gift

When a basketball player towers over the court at 7-foot-something, his advantage is clearly genetic. Nobody can argue that some athletes have biology to thank -- a volleyball player with incredible arm span, a runner with super-long legs. But sometimes, the genetic advantage comes from being an abnormality, like hot dog-eating champion Takeru "The Tsunami" Kobayashi.

The poster boy for competitive eating, Kobayashi was the king of the famous Fourth of July Nathan's hot-dog eating competition on Coney Island, New York. A six-time winner, the Japan native ate 53.75 hot dogs in 12 minutes during the 2006 competition, breaking all his old world records to set a new one. In fact, up till his 2007 dethroning by Joey Chestnut, who wolfed down 66 in the contest, Kobayashi had only been beaten once in hot-dog eating -- by a 1,089-pound Kodiak bear (seriously), whom he competed against for the Fox TV show Man vs. Beast.

Part of Kobayashi's secret is his technique -- the man breaks the wieners and buns in half, dunks them in water, then shovels them into his mouth, all the while doing the signature "Kobayashi shake," where he wiggles his body to force food down his esophagus into his stomach. He also attributes his physical stamina to gradually eating larger amounts of food, which stretches his gut, and doing intense workouts to keep his fat level down.

However, Kobayashi's success is also partly genetic. The competitive eater has admitted to having gastroptosis -- medically defined as an abnormal sagging of the stomach into the lower abdomen, which gives his stomach more room to expand. In this way, his body provides him an edge purely independent of any talent, technique, or training.

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