Mathematicians are used to solving problems on their own, including winning Olympic champions

Mathematicians are used to solving problems on their own, including winning Olympic champions

The Olympics had just been born when the Austrians won the cycling championship last time. In 1896, Austrian Adolf Schmal won the first Olympic cycling time trial championship in Athens. Only two people finished the cycling time trial. British player Frank Kipping won the second and last place.


Mathematicians are used to solving problems on their own, including winning Olympic champions

Cycling at the Olympic Games in 1896

On July 25, the Austrian female driver Anna Kissenhof won the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympic Games women’s road race at Mount Fuji, and once again brought back the gold medal in the cycling event for Austria in 125 years.

Before the game, no one knew who Anna Kisenhof was, and everyone’s eyes were on the Dutch and German teams. The Dutch team is led by the defending champion Anna Van der Bregen and has won gold medals in this event at the London and Rio Olympics. The German team is the 2020 European Road Championship champion. The athletes sent by these two countries all come from the women’s professional team of the International Cycling Union (UCI) .

After the game, everyone was discussing who Anna Kissenhoff was. A “lone wolf” who has no coach, no nutritionist, and has not joined any professional team since 2017. He is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Cambridge. His research content is nonlinear partial differential equations. The direction of his doctoral dissertation is on the integral system of b-symplectic manifolds.

It sounds like an academic researcher who loves to ride a bicycle. He traveled to Mount Fuji and took away the Olympic gold medal by the way. European media exclaimed that the biggest dark horse of the Olympic Games appeared. CNN commented that this was “one of the biggest shocks in the history of the Olympic Games.”

Lone wolf

Cycling is one of the top ten most professional sports in the world. UCI was established as early as 1900. At present, there are three major races running around the world, including the Tour de France, which is well-known to the public, and a series of dozens of large and small races, such as the Tour of Qinghai Lake, which is a cycling craze in China every year. Currently, UCI has 122 registered intercontinental professional teams and 41 women’s professional teams.

The requirements for women’s professional teams are the same as those for men. Each team must include the general manager, team manager, coach, medical assistant, mechanic, and sponsor’s paying agent; each team must hire a team manager during each registration year. At least 2 people and at least 14 full-time drivers; the team needs to provide each team member with complete legal and financial status, race registration, various guarantees and standard contracts.

Under such circumstances, looking at the Olympic final again, you can feel the strength of the Dutch team. Van Fletten’s speed is well-known in the women’s cycling world. Defending her is the defending champion Anna Van der Bregen. 

Cycling media “cyclingtips” made a big headline in the pre-match prediction: Can anyone challenge the Dutch team?

The race started at Musashi no Mori Park in western Tokyo and ended at Fuji Circuit in Shizuoka Prefecture. Anna Kissenhoff, together with 5 other people, rushed out of the big group and started to lead the ride. The Dutch team and the German team are not in a hurry, guarding each other. In such a road race group competition, the person who leads the rider is usually not noticed at the beginning, because they will bear the wind resistance alone, usually exhausting their physical strength and losing strength in the follow-up.

Generally speaking, those who don’t intend to compete for gold medals, just want to hit a medal or a decent ranking, will choose to lead at the beginning.

The fighting method between the Dutch team and the German team is the mainstream. At the beginning, they used the windbreaking ability of the large units to retain their physical strength. They started to exert their strength at a distance of 60-40km from the end point. Using the group combat method, they took turns to lead and help the main general to break the wind. The main general can complete the sprint with plenty of physical strength in the final stage.

With more than half of the 137-kilometer race, the lead unit led by Anna Kisenhof has led the brigade including the Dutch Army by 5 minutes. At this time, the Dutch team and the German team are still as stable as Mount Taishan. 5 minutes is a common number in bicycle races, and the group army can easily catch up in subsequent pursuits.

However, there was no radio communication and off-field guidance for the road race of the Olympic Games, and the team did not realize that Anna Kissenhof had run too far, leading by more than 10 minutes. The remaining distance is no longer enough, even if Van Fletten has the impressive speed, the remaining distance is not enough for her to catch up with Anna Kissenhof.

With 60 kilometers to the end, the Dutch Legion began to move. The new Tour de France champion, 24-year-old Demi Wallerin took the lead and began to chase the Cavalry. But she was unsuccessful, and the Cavalry had gone too far. At this time, the Dutch team began to realize that something was wrong, and they began a group pursuit.

Four orange shirts were separated from the main force. In the words of “Eurosport”, Van Fletten began to jump forward like a rocket, chasing the leading group, just like it has happened countless times before.

With 40 kilometers left in the race, Anna Kissenhof had already left the other 4 people who had been leading the race at first, and had begun a lonely and long lead alone. At the same time, the rocket-like Van Fletten was already approaching the other four leaders very quickly. As Anna Kissenhof entered the Fuji circuit before the finish line, the final journey began. Even if a car accident occurred at a speed of 65 km/h and fell off the car, Van Fletten still overtook the other four leaders and returned to the main force to wait for the final sprint.

As happened countless times in professional competitions, Van Fletten crossed the finish line with his hands high. Generally speaking, drivers will only do this when they win a championship. After all, Van Fletten has never lost in a woman-to-woman sprint battle. 

Van Fletten rushed to the audience and hugged his coach, only to be told: you won the silver medal.

At this time, the gold medalist Anna Kissenhoff had already circled the auditorium and accepted the audience’s compliments. She was 75 seconds ahead of Van Fletten and won the championship.

Postdoctoral mathematician

Van Fletten didn’t know who Anna Kisenhof was.

After the game, in an interview with the Dutch media, Van Fletten burst into tears: “Yes…I thought I won, I was wrong.” Van Fletten said frankly that the Olympic games are not like professional games. That way, players and coaches can communicate via radio. After completing the surpassing of the 4-man leader, Van Fletten thought the script was like every game in the past. Speaking of his last dashing move, Van Fletten said he was “ashamed.”

Bronze medalist and Italian player Eliza Longo Bocchini said: “I thought the Dutch team had everything, but in the end, sometimes when you play too much tactics and you think you are the strongest, you lose. Competition. “

Anna Kissenhoff seemed very quiet.

According to “European Sports”, Anna Kissenhof obviously started to lose strength during the last lap of the Fuji circuit, but fortunately, she was slow enough to get out of strength, and the remaining strength was enough to support her pedaling laps. Step on it. Throughout the game, Anna Kisenhof did not sprint, but rode the entire journey quietly.

“I have never been so tired in my life. I emptied every cell in my leg.” Anna Kissenhofer said in an interview after the game. According to European Olympic tracking media reports, before participating in the Olympics, Anna Kisenhof’s dream was to win the qualifiers and enter the Olympics. “Later I was thinking, can I try to hit the top 15?”

Anna Kissenhoff revealed that when she crossed the line, what she thought in her mind was: “Is it over? Do I have to continue riding?” When the Austrian cyclist realized that she had won the gold medal, she was incredulous. Tears of joy were shed. She said: “This is not true, no one will believe it. Even I can’t believe it, even if I cross the line, I can’t believe it. “

Mathematicians are used to solving problems on their own, including winning Olympic champions

Anna Kissenhof celebrates her Olympic championship on Twitter

This postdoctoral researcher has no coach, no teammates, no team. He has customized training plans, planned his own tactics, and became a professional player for only 3 years. He rode 147 kilometers all the way alone, defeated the heat and won the gold medal. 

The sharp-eyed North American commentator pointed out that Anna Kissenhoff’s number of supplies in the game was too small compared to the speed she maintained, indicating that her logistics team has a clear gap with other contestants. Anna Kissenhoff explained this: “As a mathematician, you are used to solving problems alone, and I treat bicycles the same way.”

Mathematicians are used to solving problems on their own, including winning Olympic champions

Anna Kissenhoff in Solitary Training

Anna Kissenhoff has a master’s degree in mathematics from Cambridge University and a PhD in applied mathematics from the Technological University of Catalonia in Spain. Currently, she is working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Lausanne Federal Institute of Technology at the foot of the Alps and on the shore of Lake Geneva. ETH Lausanne and the famous ETH Zurich are sister institutions.

In an interview with the director of the CNN Sports Channel, Anna Kissenhof said: “Many cyclists have coaches, dietitians, and people who plan games for them. But all of this is done by myself.” A month before coming to Tokyo, Anna uploaded on Twitter her own training plan designed to deal with the high temperature in Tokyo.

It is not uncommon for people like Anna Kissenhoff to go to the Olympics because they love to participate in sports. The silver medalist Van Fletten, the king of women’s speed, is also the recipient of a master’s degree in epidemiology from Wageningen University.

Anna Kissenhof proudly said that her students would search for their names on Google. She is looking forward to sharing her experience of winning the Olympic champion in the lecture hall next semester.


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