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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Cycling Gold medalist in Olympics Anna Kiesenhofer is a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics

One of Tamil cinema’s heroes  cycled his way to the polling booth in Chennai to cast his vote – and people were talking about that !! .. funny, is not cycling a very easy thing !  .. .. .. in our school days, only elites had cycles and came to school in their bicycles.  In every area, there would be shops hiring cycle [it was 30 paise per hour !] – cycle was a vehicle for common man .. once a while in TV they would show the song from Pavamannippu whence Sivaji Ganesan would pedal a bicycle.

A wrong cliché those days – those who did well in Sports would not study well – rather if you show inclination towards sports, elders would scold that it would affect studies.  .. .. it was another fact that those days famed Cricketers Erapalli Prasanna, Srinivasan Venkatraghavan and later Krishnamachari Srikkanth among many others were Engineering graduates (long before the concept of Private Engineering colleges came !)

Do you remember your Maths teacher at School – I remember well, Mrs Bhagawathi at Samarao, Mr ST Padmanabhan, Mr Munuswamy, Mr V Chandrasekaran among others ..  was Maths the most difficult subject ?? 

The École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is a public research university located in Lausanne, Switzerland. It specializes in natural sciences and engineering. It is one of the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, with three main missions: education, research and technology transfer. The QS World University Rankings ranked EPFL as the 14th best university in the world across all fields in 2021.   


The women's individual road race event at the 2020 Summer Olympics was held on 25 July 2021 on a course starting at Musashinonomori Park and ending at the Fuji Speedway in Tokyo. 67 cyclists from 40 nations competed, with 48 completing the course.  The road race was a mass-start, one-day road race event.   The women's road race was 137 kilometres (85 mi) long with a total elevation gain of 2,692 metres (8,832 ft).

The race was won by Anna Kiesenhofer of Austria. Kiesenhofer was part of the original breakaway after having broken away at the very start of the race along with four other riders. She proceeded to drop her breakaway companions, soloing off the front at the Kagosaka Pass with 41 kilometres (25 mi) to go and holding off the late chase from the peloton. She won by 1' 15" over the silver medalist, Annemiek van Vleuten of Netherlands. Van Vleuten made a late attack with 2.1 kilometres (1.3 mi) to go, distancing the remnants of the peloton. She celebrated after crossing the line, having mistakenly thought that all the breakaway riders have been caught and that she had won gold. The bronze medal went to Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy, after unsuccessfully attempting to bridge up to van Vleuten's attack and holding off the peloton.

Anna Kiesenhofer of Austria produced the performance of a lifetime to win the women's cycling individual road race. The 30-year-old cyclist was in a race of her own, going it alone for the final 40km before coming home first in a time of 3:52:45.

By the final stretch of a gruelling 137km race, Kiesenhofer was ahead by over two minutes, with the chasing pack seemingly unaware she was out in front. Her face was filled with emotion as she crossed the line, a minute and 15 seconds ahead of silver medallist Van Vleuten, with Italy's Borghini a further 14 seconds back. Kiesenhofer has had an unconventional journey to the top echelons of the cycling world, having previously competed in triathlon and duathlon until injuries forced her to stop running. She holds  a Master's degree in Mathematics at the University of Cambridge in England, and a PhD in applied mathematics at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain. However, her decision to concentrate on cycling has now paid dividends as she took home one of the ultimate prizes in sport at Tokyo 2020.

"I planned to attack at kilometre zero and I was happy I could get in front. That is something I could not take for granted because I am not good at riding in the peloton, said Kiesenhofer. "I am happy that I was not too scared and I just went for it. I attacked and with the group we worked more or less together - it was helpful to have a group. I saw I was the strongest and I knew I had the climb before the long descent.

The Austrian mathematician’s gold at the final seconds was assisted by the  veteran Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten mistakenly thinking and celebrating  she had won. The 30-year-old who  holds a doctorate in applied maths from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia having also studied at Vienna and Cambridge Universities, held her nerve    

Anna Kiesenhofer  hails from Austria and is a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL).  Kiesenhofer studied mathematics at the Technical University of Vienna, completing her Master's degree at University of Cambridge. She earned her PhD at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia with her thesis on Integrable systems on b-symplectic manifolds. Kiesenhofer is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and is part of a group researching nonlinear partial differential equations which arise in mathematical physics. Truly vera level.

Five Red Tulips (Cinq tulipes rouges) is a 1949 French crime film directed by Jean Stelli and starring René Dary, Suzanne Dehelly and Raymond Bussières. The film's sets were designed by the art director Jacques Colombier. The plot was the murders of five riders during the Tour de France.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th July 2021. 

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