It's always tempting to watch the Olympics and wonder: Could I have been good at [obscure sport]?
The answer is almost always no — probably because most of us don’t have the work ethic, perseverance, and athleticism. But there's one other thing that really matters for most sports: your height.
We’re not just talking about basketball or volleyball, where height gives you an obvious advantage. We’re talking about sports like sprinting, where it’s unclear how being a certain height can help. But once you start looking at the best athletes, you start to see a trend.
What you find out is, for example, that marathon runners tend to be shorter — because being lighter is a huge advantage. Meanwhile, being around 6 feet as a weightlifter is ideal because it helps you get under the weight, while having a tall enough frame for a lot of muscle.
It's a lesson I learned in another life, as a hockey writer, when all my data crunching helped me realize that almost all successful hockey pros were about 6-foot-1, give or take a few inches.
So let’s say you did have the right work ethic, and you’re ready to train for the Olympics. Which events would you be the right height for? First, enter your height. For context, we'll compare you to the shortest (gymnast Simone Biles) and tallest (basketball player DeMarcus Cousins) US athletes in this year's games:
Additional research by Sarah Frostenson, Sarah Kliff, and Zachary Crockett.
Note: Topknots do not contribute to height.