3 pro basketball players in the same family? Time for FitnessGenes to investigate!

Saturday, December 10, 2016. Author Martin Cheifetz

Following big footsteps
It’s not every day that someone 6 feet 7 inches tall (2.01m) is called “small” and it’s not every day that you meet someone who has worked in 6 countries by the age of 33.  It’s also not every day you meet someone who has represented their sport at an international level, and whose father, brother, and nephew have all represented their country at that same sport. 

It’s not every day you get to meet Ilian Evtimov, but we’re really glad we did!

Ilian plays small forward for Cholet Basket in the French pro basketball league and is the son of the former captain of the Bulgarian national basketball team and brother of another Euroleague hoops player.  He played college basketball in the USA (NC State University ’06) and went on to play professional basketball in Spain, Italy, Germany, Cyprus, and France. We were fortunate that Ilian’s wife found FitnessGenes while doing some research on injury prevention and decided to give us a try.

We learned about Ilian when he contacted us with questions after receiving his results. Coming from a family of elite athletes makes Ilian a fascinating case study for a genetics company. Ilian spent time on the phone with our CEO Dr Dan Reardon to better understand his results and recommendations, and has graciously consented to publishing this interview:

FitnessGenes (FG) What changes you will be making to your DIET because of your FitnessGenes test results? 

Ilian Evitmov (IE) I discovered through the DNA analysis that I am genetically predisposed to overeat, and to minimize the risk of gaining weight, I should have 5 small meals, instead of having 3 big meals daily. ***

(FG) What changes you will be making to your TRAINING because of your DNA test results? 

(IE) My heavy lifting in the weight room must immediately follow my warm up, and I must lift slowly, for maximal time under tension, using a tempo of 2 seconds up and 2 seconds down to maximize my training results. Also, because the analysis showed that I clear lactic acid quickly, I can really benefit from a high training volume. 

(FG) What changes you will be making to your RECOVERY protocols because of your DNA analysis? 

(IE) I must eat or have a recovery drink immediately after the training to replenish the muscles. I was also made aware that my body did not need BCAA supplements for recovery because of my DNA. According to my CLOCK gene, to have the optimal results in training and recovery, my work outs should be in the early part of the afternoon.  

(FG) Apart from diet, training, and exercise, is there anything else you learned about yourself from the DNA analysis (i.e were you always wondering why you were a certain way, and now you know?)

(IE) I discovered that my body tends to have muscle injuries which could be due to taking creatine. I had noticed before that a correlation seemed to exist, but the DNA analysis proved it. 

(FG) What does your average training diet look like?

(IE) I usually eat breakfast high in protein, then I train, followed by a lunch high in carbohydrate with meat. After some rest, I take a snack in the middle of the afternoon before practice, and finish the day with a meal high in protein. 

(FG) Coming from a family of elite athletes, how would you rank the importance of Genetics, Training, Mental Toughness (and why)?

(IE) Coming from a family of athletes certainly gives an advantage because you grow up understanding the routine and dedication required to be a professional.  It’s not just what you do in the 48 minutes on the court. It’s working hard in training; rest in the afternoon; proper sleep; determination, concentration, and of course the belief you can overcome adversity. When you don't perform at the appropriate level for your abilities, your family will be the first ones to let you know, especially since they play important roles as coaches/mentors. 

(FG) How old were you when you first wanted to be and/or thought you could be a professional athlete? 

(IE) Since I grew up in that environment I always wanted to be a professional athlete, and I never wanted to be anything else.

(FG) Did having your father and brother as professional athletes make it easier or harder for you (and why)?

(IE) It was easier but also harder at the same time since there is a feeling of expectation not to disappoint them. Being part of a family with great success puts an indirect pressure on the younger ones. 

(FG) What has been your greatest sporting achievement? 

(IE) My greatest sporting achievement was in 2012 with my former team Chalon-Sur-Saône: We won the French Cup and I was selected as the MVP of the tournament. That same year, we also won the Leaders Cup, the French National title, and made it to the European Final in the Eurochallenge competition, and I ended the year with an All-Star Game selection in the French League. 

(FG) What has been your greatest sporting disappointment? 

(IE) It was the same year, in 2012, losing in the Championship game of the European competition. It was the only title we didn't win that year. 

(FG) What is your next goal as a professional sportsman?

(IE) I would like to win another title with my new team, Cholet Basket. 

(FG) How would you describe the difference in being a European basketball player in your father's day, in your brother's day, and now for you

(IE) There is a huge difference between basketball 30 years ago, when Europeans would not yet go to the NBA, and now, where the top talents go to the NBA. Basketball especially in the USA has become a business more than a sport, a kind of entertainment. In Europe, however, basketball has kept its primary purpose of sports. Today, the bigger the organization, the more access and resources they have to train, test, improve players, because the technology of today is very extensive and very advanced. 

(FG) Would you like for your children to carry on your family tradition of being a professional sportsperson? 

(IE) I would love for my children to continue on the same path as my family has up to this point. My father played for the Bulgarian National team 251 times, being the captain for 6 years. My brother is one of two players in basketball history to play for 2 different national teams (Bulgaria and France) at two official competitions, the European Championship in 2001, and the European Championship in 2009. I played for the French national team U20 and won a bronze medal at the European Championship. My nephew just played with the French national team U16 this past summer. I only hope it will continue in this manner! My wife isn’t a professional athlete, but she was a TV anchor for a sports channel when we met. 

(FG) Anything further you’d like to add?

(IE) It is very intriguing how the genes can play a role in our performance, but it makes perfect sense. I believe this kind of information is crucial in developing an appropriate program for a high-level athlete, because not only does it play in performance but also and more importantly in injury prevention. 

I am very satisfied with my experience with FitnessGenes. My wife is the one who found it for me, and after researching different companies, I knew right away that I had selected the right choice when ordering my samples. I was also very impressed by the follow up I had from the company as Dr. Dan Reardon, the CEO himself gave me a full explanation of my results. 

Follow Ilian on social media



***For more on genetic predispositions to overeat, please read this article in Inc magazine about our obesity research.

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