What if Everything You Knew About Winning an Olympic Gold Medal Was Wrong?

Landmark book “Be a Champion” by French mathematician proves that conventional wisdom about peak performance often misses the mark


Building on her exhaustive eight-year scientific exploration of sports performance, Aftalion’s inviting and engaging text illustrates how mathematics and physics can aid sports strategy and see athletics in a new way. Written for a general audience, “Be a Champion” guides readers in plain language through answers to 40 thought-provoking questions about science and sport, including:

  • Why do you lean in a bend?
  • Why does a sprinter slow down before the finish line?
  • Why do you swim better when you are slightly underwater?
  • Why, on a bike, the faster you go, the more stable you are?
  • Why shouldn’t you rely on doping tests too much?
  • Is there a law of evolution of records?

“My personal appreciation of sports has profoundly deepened with my investigations into the mathematics behind sports,” Aftalion said. “With this book, I want to share that excitement and joy with people. By understanding how an athlete performs, you can truly watch the Olympics with different eyes.”

In conjunction with the launch of “Be a Champion,” Aftalion has developed a free, downloadable educational resource summarizing just a few of the fascinating facts about sports and science detailed in the book. Illustrated by Estelle Chauvard, the 10 panels are intended to be printed and displayed in libraries, parks, schools and other public venues. They serve as a valuable resource for educators, sports enthusiasts and others looking to enrich their communities’ understanding of the science and mathematics of Olympic sports. The high-resolution PDF is available now from the VideoDiMath website.

Readers can order “Be a Champion: 40 Facts You Didn’t Know About Sports and Science” now in e-book and softcover formats from Springer Link and Amazon link

About Amandine Aftalion

Amandine Aftalion is a French mathematician and Director of Research at the National Centre for Scientific Research. Her extensive eight-year exploration of sports performance has yielded fruitful results, including prompting the International Athletic Federation to reconsider its rules for track. A renowned specialist of low-temperature physics models, Aftalion has given talks around the world. She is author of “Vortices in Bose–Einstein Condensates,” which appeared in the journal “Scientific Reports.” More recently, she has used energy minimization processes to study the optimization of human running. She is the producer and director of VideoDiMath, a French YouTube channel that popularizes mathematics for general audiences.


Cameron Thomas, VerbFactory

Written by SerieAUKWire

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