We wanted to find out what makes some of our brightest athletes tick. So we went behind the scenes to find out.

In the run-up to the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, the Herald profiled some of the New Zealand athletes in action in Brazil.

We had exclusive behind-the-scenes access to some of the brightest talents in the country. We were able to find out what inspires them and observe their training sessions up close.

Films by Herald video journalist Mike Scott and stills by chief photographer Brett Phibbs were complemented by feature articles written by some of the expert Herald and Radio Sport journalists covering the Games.

Our choices were more than justified.

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Cameron Leslie's gold at the Paralympics mean four of the five subjects went on to win medals and the fifth, Dylan Schmidt, finished a commendable seventh at his first Olympics.

Here, we collect all five of the features.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke
Sarah Goss
Dylan Schmidt
Eliza McCartney
Cameron Leslie