Friday, 10 January 2014

Maths in Sport - David Florence

An interview with... David Florence


David Florence won silver medals at the 2008 Beijing and the 2012 London Olympic games in C1 - individual canoe slalom. He won the C1 World Cup title in 2009. He was ranked #1 in the world in C1 in 2012 and has won 12 World Cup medals, including 4 gold medals. David also competes in the C2 canoe slalom for pairs and won an incredible double gold medal for C1 and C2 at the 2013 World Championships in Prague, a feat that has not happened for 60 years.

David also studied mathematical physics at the University of Nottigham.

David kindly agreed to participate in the Maths in Sport project by answering 10 questions about how maths applies to his sport. Here is what he had to say:

The questions and answers:

Describe what maths lessons were like for you at school.
I was fairly good at maths and generally enjoyed the subject. 

When you left school, did you expect to be using any of the maths that you were taught ever again?
Yes, I use basic maths every day.
How good do you need to be at mental arithmetic to do calculations in your head as you race?
I don't do any actual mathematical calculations whilst I race, though I do after the race use maths in comparing my own times and my times with other competitors.
How aware are you of angles in your technique – angle of approach into a corner, angles in the course, angle of arms, angle of body etc?
It's important to get the angles right in lots of senses in my sport. We often talk about the angle of boat lean or approach angle to gate.
When you are racing, how much is “mathematical thinking and calculating” and how much is “go as fast as you can”?
There isn't any mathematical thinking or calculating as such, but it's useful to be analytically minded.
Is estimation good enough or do you rely on accurate measurement of distances and times?
I use both estimation and accurate measurement for different aspects of racing and training.
Do you keep an eye on the clock as you go around a course in training and in races?
No, it's not really possible in my sport.
Have your coaches ever used mathematics and physics to explain your style and movement?
Not in such terms, but physics and maths are a part of what we are often discussing.
Do you look at statistics much to analyse your training and races?
Yes, we use statistics all the time.
Do you have any other insights to offer into how you use mathematics in racing?
We use percentages often to measure performance and in planning training we look at the mathematics of it. How many minutes work we do per session/per week, how many sessions we are averaging a week, how many runs are we doing, how many gates, etc.

Thank you David for taking time out of your busy training schedule to answer these questions and be a part of Authentic Inquiry Maths.

Website -
Twitter - @David_Florence

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