Why do some people become WNBA champions or Olympic gold medalists and others do not? What is ‘special’ about those very few incredibly skilled athletes, and why do they, in particular, get to be special? In this paper, I attempt to make sense of the relationship that there is, in the case of sports champions, between so-called ‘talent’, i.e. natural predisposition for particular physical activities and high-pressure
competition, and practice/training. I will articulate what I take to be the ‘mechanism’ that allows certain people to rise to the Olympus of athletic excellence, and what being part of this elite club ‘feels like’. My proposal is based on the idea that so-called talent and practice interact in complex and unsystematic ways. I will also argue that becoming a top athlete involves undergoing a special kind of transformation, which makes such people qualitatively different from any ‘normal’ sport amateur, even when the difference might not be immediately visible to the ‘untrained’ eye.