"Sci-Tech Today talks about the role of technology in the Olympics from a unique perspective:
Every advance in the ever-accelerating juggernaut of sports technology threatens to widen the divide between Olympic haves and have-nots. Well-sponsored teams and rich governments pay top-end scientists and engineers to shape their skis, perfect their skates, tighten their suits, measure their gravitational pull.
I'm no luddite, but this seems to make these sports more about who can afford the best tech, and less about the true spirit of the games: bringing the best athletes from all countries together to compete. How can it be about the athletes, when some of the best athletes may never win due to lack of funding/tech?"
Money plays a big part, and so does a country's financial support for a program: the more people you have practicing one sport - think of the Dutch speed skating program - the more likely you are to find the ones who excel at that sport). There may be a third reason why countries like Ethiopia can be top contenders in a discipline like the marathon: genetics.
Africans may have bodies that are better suited for long distance running. Whites or Asians may have bodies better suited for other disciplines. None of these people are better than other races, they just happen to be better at one or two things. But you'll never hear this discussed, because liberals like to tar and feather anyone who points out genetic differences, instead of accepting these differences and admitting that they may play a role.
This reminds me of the Tarahumara [wikipedia.org] in the mountains of northern Mexico. Young and old, male and female, are all able to run ridiculous distances. I've even heard as much as 435 miles in just over 48 hours.