Ever wondered what makes a person so different from rest of the world, that he is called a 'champion'? Well, the reason for it lies in his 23 individual genetic variations that enhance his athletic performance.
The finding was based on a study of rats, led by Romain Meeusen, which focussed on the science behind human athleticism and endurance.
The study examined the genes that make a champion, the physiology of elite athletes, limits to performance and how they might be overcome.
Excess body heat is a barrier to performance in many sports and the study shows that both the neurotransmitter systems have an important impact on the control and perception of thermoregulation.
In the study, the rats whose dopaminergic and the noradrenergic reuptake was inhibited, by the anti-smoking aid Xyban, were able to exercise twenty minutes longer than usual in the sweltering heat and tolerated higher core body temperature.
In the context of genes, the researchers said that they identified 23 individual genetic variations that enhanced athletic performance in the rats.
"If the optimum genetic combination existed in one person, world records like Paula Radcliffe's would probably be shattered," the researchers said.
"Left to nature, the odds of anyone alive having all 23 variations is just 200,000:1. But what might the future hold for genetic manipulation and testing"," they added.
The scientists found that it is not the muscle's own temporary weakness that reduces performance but instead the brain places an unconscious 'brake' on the central motor drive to the limbs and therefore regulates exercise performance.
The study will appear in the Journal of Physiology's Olympic Special Issue.