At the halfway point of the 2012 London Olympics, viewers have already witnessed some of the most awe-inspiring performances in the history of the Games - from 15-year-old Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte taking gold in the 100-metre breaststroke, to our own Canadian men's eight claiming silver in the dying seconds of Wednesday's race (including Mac grads Jeremiah Brown and Doug Csima).
But what exactly does it take to compete on the biggest stage in the world? Many athletes in London have been training since they were children: sacrificing school, sleep and any semblance of a normal social life to workout and practice six days a week. Everything in the life of an Olympian becomes an exact science, and it isn't easy.
For repeat Olympians such as Laval's Alexandre Despatie, having the discipline and physical ability to rehab a devistating injury can mean the difference between one more shot at a medal, and the end of a dream.
Others, such as two-sport phenomenon Clara Hughes, have devoted their entire adult lives to the pursuit of excellence in sport - a lifestyle that involves superhuman stamina, drive and determination.
Getting as close to perfection as humanly possible is the goal of every Olympic athlete, and in the attached infographic, McMaster staff and researchers break down exactly what it takes to reach for the top.
Explore further: Researcher uncovers what athletes need to perform well