Anna Kiesenhofer: A mathematician who pulled off one of the biggest shocks in Olympics history

Anna Kiesenhofer: A mathematician who pulled off one of the biggest shocks in Olympics history
Anna Kiesenhofer

Anna Kiesenhofer, on Sunday, July 25, won the gold medal in the women’s road cycling in the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 30-year-old Austrian cyclist was up against the likes of former Olympic bronze medallist Elisa Longo Borghini, defending champion Anna van der Breggen, and former world title champion Annemiek van Vleuten.

The big stage didn’t fluster her and she finished with a timing of 3:52:45. Van Vleuten and Borghini clinched the silver and bronze medals respectively. Meanwhile, there’s more to Kiesenhofer than meets the eye. The Olympic gold medallist studied mathematics at the Technical University of Vienna after which she completed her master’s degree at the University of Cambridge.

Thereafter, Anna Kiesenhofer got her PhD from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. She is presently a researcher at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne.

I just killed every single muscle firewall in my legs, says Anna Kiesenhofer

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Anna Kiesenhofer

Back in 2014, Kiesenhofer started her cycling career, but three years later in 2017, she took a one-year break from cycling. In 2019, she returned as an amateur rider and won the Austrian national road race. Since then, her career has witnessed an upward trend.

As far as her glory in Tokyo was concerned, she became the first Austrian after 1986 to win an Olympics cycling gold medal. In scorching heat and humidity, she hustled her way through the 147-kilometre course with sheer ease.  

“It was pretty extreme. I have never emptied myself that much in my life, I just killed every single muscle firewall in my legs,” Kiesenhofer was quoted as saying to CNN Sports.

She wasn’t amongst the favourites to finish at the top, but it didn’t ruffle her at any stage. On realising that she won the gold, Kiesenhofer was ecstatic and ran towards her teammates.   

“There’s always this little hope, this little thought, yeah, I might win. If I’m at the start line, it means I’m prepared, I want to win. But also, I know realistically, I’m not supposed to win here,” she stated.

“It was unrealistic because nobody would have believed it. It was just incredible. I couldn’t believe it, even crossing the line I couldn’t believe it,” Kiesenhofer added.

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