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Baby Olympian? DNA Test Screens Sports Ability

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MSNBC: Ava Anderson can't run -- not yet anyway. And the only iron she pumps comes via her tiny spoon. Then again, she's just 13 months old.

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But Ava was born with a genetic blend that will infuse her body with the explosive bursts of a power athlete and the steady engine of marathoner. Someday, this baby may blossom into a multisport, cross-training double threat. That's not parental conjecture. That's her DNA profile.

Her mom and dad had her tested.

Like more than 200 other parents to date, Hilary and Aaron Anderson paid $149 to Atlas Sports Genetics -- a Boulder, Colo. company -- for a sneak peek at their kid's athletic horizons.

The Andersons received a home-analysis kit to check whether Ava has the inborn knack for strength sports (like sprinting) or endurance sports (like cycling). Then, to get the genetic scoop, they simply brushed the inside of Ava's cheek with two cotton swabs, sealed the samples in a baggie and mailed them to an Australian lab used by Atlas. Although there are 20,000 strands of human DNA, the lab hunts for variations of just one: ACTN3, which can predict certain athletic skills, some experts believe. Five weeks later, the Andersons heard the verdict.

"She's a mix," said Hilary Anderson, who wasn't surprised by the results given that she is tall and lean and that her husband once trained for the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team. "If she came back all endurance, we'd probably focus more on the long-distance type things. Likewise, if she was all strength, we would direct her toward power sports. This will let her try all sorts of things."

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