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Anna Kiesenhofer: The Olympic champion's formula for success
Anna Kiesenhofer: The Olympic champion's formula for success

Nobody had her name on the screen. Since Sunday we have known Anna Kiesenhofer even more. How the cyclist won Olympic gold and what we can learn from her - the portrait.

anna kiesenhofer, wheel, cycling, austria,
anna kiesenhofer, wheel, cycling, austria,

Anna Kiesenhofer, 30, is actually a full-time mathematician. And actually nobody expected her to have a lot of chances. The latter is almost an exaggeration, because even the runner-up in the Olympic road bike race, Annemiek van Vleuten, a superstar of the cycling scene, openly admitted: “I did not underestimate her. I didn't even know her.”Completely unexpectedly, the 30-year-old won the Olympic road bike race. Everyone is now talking about Kiesenhofer's summer fairy tale. Even the Federal President congratulated her on the success, after all she is Austria's first Olympic cycling champion since 1896. Anna Kiesenhofer's story not only fascinates sports enthusiasts - the amateur who became a superstar. The outsider, the exceptional talent. 5 facts that inspire us from her career …

Hold on and believe in yourself

It is never too late. You have to start in competitive sport as a child, otherwise it won't work? Maybe true for some top athletes, but not for all. Kiesenhofer only focused on cycling when he was 22 years old. Before that, she tried her hand at duo and triathlon. Due to an injury, she was unable to run for a long time, so from 2014 she concentrated on the bike. In 2016, Kiesenhofer won the Copa de Espana, but at that time rode with a Spanish license because she was studying in Barcelona.

In 2017 she tried it in a Belgian team, but in the same year she had to admit one thing: "That professional sport is too much physical and psychological stress for me and that I prefer to only do hobby sport." Individual time trials, also in 2020 and 2021. After the race, she said in a big interview with ORF: “I always want to win, even at the Olympic Games, although that was unrealistic beforehand. But that's how it is for all athletes. The mind drives us, although at the same time it tells us that this is impossible."

Go your own way. Always

Sport was always just a hobby, the priority in the life of the native Lower Austria - she grew up in Niederkreuzstetten in the Mistelbach district - was mathematics and physics. She studied at the Technical University in Vienna, later doing her master’s degree in Cambridge and her doctorate in Barcelona. She received her doctorate from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya with top marks. “Mentally she is extremely strong, and she prepares herself very carefully and in great detail. If she has goals, then she pursues them very consistently, it is not for nothing that she is already a professor of mathematics at the age of 30, "said Klaus Kabasser, national trainer of the Austrian Cycling Association, celebrating the Olympian. Even after her Olympic victory, Kiesenhofer would like to continue doing her job. But she already admits: “This success gives me a lot of self-confidence. In that way, I'll be a different person."

Meticulous preparation

At some point it pays off. At the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Kiesenhofer works as a postdoc and deals with partial differential equations. In the Ö1 Morgenjournal, Kiesenhofer explained how this know-how helps her in cycling: “It's actually really funny. You can work out what you have to pedal to overcome air resistance and gravity. You add that up and that's the total force that you have to overcome.”Sounds logical, doesn't it? Kiesenhofer has special programs that help her predict how long she will need for certain sections of the route and how she will organize her meals.

“The big unknown is the pace of the others at the back. I can calculate how fast I can be, but I never know how fast the others are.”In an interview with ORF, Jutta Katharina Kiesenhofer also reported on her sister's extraordinary discipline:“She has a mixture of talent and a lot of work, that she puts in. She has such a tenacious will and is extremely intelligent. She knows exactly what she's doing. She is extremely knowledgeable about cycling, nutrition and performance enhancement, and knows her body very well.”To prepare for the high temperatures in Japan, she trained in a pullover and jacket in the summer.

Self-made woman

Kiesenhofer usually doesn't have a large team behind him, no supervisors. The 1.67 meter tall woman is used to taking care of everything herself. And she likes to be a lone fighter: “I'm proud of that. I myself am the mastermind behind my successes. "She checks the training and nutrition planning on her own, and she wants to keep it that way:" I've been on a professional team before. I need my freedom to control my things myself and to choose the races myself.”The athlete doesn't want to be fooled into by anyone:“I'm a bit complicated and always want some extra sausage. Three different mixtures of Iostonic drinks, and I'm a bit tricky with the material."

Compensation: Your source of strength is the family

She lives with her boyfriend, Olivier, in Lausanne, Switzerland. The exceptional talent has not seen her parents in person for over a year - for fear of contracting corona and lung damage, she avoided long trips. "Mathematics as well as cycling require a similar character," analyzes the mother of the Olympic champion after her daughter's sensational success in various interviews. “You have to concentrate and you need a lot of willpower. For them, cycling is the perfect complement. Only the head is simply not enough."

Christine Kiesenhofer has been contacted by many media teams since Sunday. Everyone wants to know how the exceptional athlete grew up. And above all: How do you motivate yourself during a 137-kilometer race? Her closest environment is very important to the 30-year-old: "You are simply an extremely important support for me. I often thought of you during the race and that gave me motivation to see through what was really tough."

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