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From Little League to the Olympics, athletic mastery plays a major role in our sense of achievement. This hour, TED speakers explore the minds and bodies of champions who achieve extraordinary feats.

In pitch-black, stung by jellyfish, choking on salt water, hallucinating, Diana Nyad kept swimming. She describes the journey of her historic 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida, at age 64. Humans seem to have gotten faster, better and stronger in almost every way. Yet as sports journalist David Epstein points out, many factors are at play when we shatter athletic records. Paralympic snowboarder and Dancing With the Stars finalist Amy Purdy tells how losing her legs at age 19 enabled her to achieve more than she ever dreamed. Not everyone can win the gold medal, and historian Sarah Lewis says that's a good thing. It's the near-wins and bare losses that truly motivate us to master our destinies.

Learn more or listen again to this week's episode, which originally aired on July 20, 2014.

Banner Image Credit: iStockphoto



Guy Raz