Thursday, 16 January 2014

Maths in Sport - Ondrej Synek

An interview with - Ondrej Synek

Ondrej Synek is a rower from the Czech Republic. He is a two-times world champion single sculler (2010 and 2013) and twice Olympic silver medalist (2008 and 2012).

Overcoming the language barrier - I don't speak Czech and English is not Ondrej's native language - I am very proud to present an interview with a really fantastic sportsman. I asked Ondrej 10 questions about how mathematics relates to his sport of rowing and single sculling. Here is what he had to say.

The questions and answers

Describe what mathematics lessons were like for you at school.
Despite my interest in maths, the classes were quite boring. From fifth grade on, I enrolled in more intensive maths classes which consisted of four extra hours per week.

When you left school, did you expect to be using any of the mathematics that you were taught ever again?
After I left school I did not expect to use any mathematics but the reality was different. Now I feel that I use about 60% of the maths I learned at school.

How good do you need to be at mental arithmetic to do calculations in your head when you are training or racing?
Average. During training or racing I need to count strokes, speed and the distance all together.

How aware are you of angles when rowing - such as angle or oars, angle of boat, angle of back etc?
A lot. The angles around my boat play a very important role. I check the angles regularly.

When you are in a race, how much is "mathematical thinking and calculating" and how much is "go as fast as you can"?
Counting is not as important as my psychological thinking.

Is estimation good enough or do you prefer to measure distances and times accurately?
My general estimation is enough. I only measure the time during training.

When you are training, do you keep an eye on the time clock?
No. I only keep my eyes on the other competitors.

Have your coaches ever used mathematics and physics to explain your style?
Yes, they have. When I start rowing it was more important to me than now because I have more personal experience.

Do you look at statistics much to analyse your training and races?
Yes, I do. After each race, we usually analyse the results from the heats, the quarter and the semi finals. The weather also plays an important role. 

Do you have any other insights to offer into how you use mathematics when rowing?
In my opinion, the most useful methods have been mentioned, however, it depends on the psyche and mental strength of each individual.

Thank you Ondrej for being a part of the Maths in Sport project. I certainly appreciate your willing ness to be involved!

Facebook - Ondrej-Synek

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