Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Anna Kiesenhofer: From PhD in mathematics to being Olympics cycling champion

Kiesenhofar cycled to the finish line when her fellow cyclists were still over a minute away. Winning gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Anna Kiesenhofer of Austria stunned herself and the whole world.

Apart from pedalling, Anna is great at problem-solving too. She is a mathematician with a doctorate, and she says, till now, the journey has been very difficult, hard-working for both PhD in mathematics and cycling in the Olympics.

“The gold came in a very unexpected way”, says Kiesenhofer. And with great intelligence and finesse, she has achieved a rare Olympic history, as she broke the previous peloton or the distance between cyclists.

30 year old Keisenhofer was way ahead of her fellow cyclists that it even tricked them to believe they were winning.

Her clever tactical tricks and immense belief in her ways, has given Austria its first-ever women cyclist, Anna Kiesenhofar since 1896.

Though Anna has previously been coached, lately she has self-guided herself from nutrition to practice, and believes it is her immense faith in her strategies and herself that has brought her this far.

Kiesenhofer’s strategies and journey are unique. She studied mathematics at the Technical University of Vienna and post-graduated from the University of Cambridge.

By the time she won the Coupe d’ Espagne, in 2016, she had also earned her PhD at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia with her thesis on Integrable systems on b-symplectic manifolds.

Beginning with triathlon and duathlon a decade ago, Kiesenhofar has pedalled hard for many national and international teams, including Tour de l’Ardèchem.

But then, Anna was met with an injury and took a year break, only to start practising more vigorously, in 2014.

Though she spectacularly won a silver medal for the Catalan team in 2016, her first professional contract with the Lotto Soudal Ladies team was cancelled due to some reasons.

However, she made her comeback in 2019, by bagging 20th position in the World Championships time trial. But then too, despite her striking performances, she couldn’t earn another professional contract. With her win in Tokyo, this is bound to change.

The Olympic winner has got both cycling and academics to look forward to, as she is amidst pursuing her post-doctoral research in mathematics straight off at the École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Atika Sayeed
Atika Sayeed
Atika Sayeed is a journalism student in Kolkata.
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