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New Zealand achieve more Olympic success

16 August 2005

New Zealand achieve more Olympic success

A team of young New Zealanders have brought home silver and bronze medals from the International Mathematical Olympiad in Mexico, proving - when it comes to maths - they can foot it with New Zealand's Olympic sporting greats on the world stage.

The six secondary school students had to complete two problem-solving exams with team members Heather Macbeth winning a silver medal, Eric Kang and Tom Wang both winning bronze medals and James Liley and Chris Chambers awarded honorable mentions.

The students had to solve three problems in both exams, with an hour and a half set aside for each problem.

"The results achieved were excellent both individually and overall. The team placed 38 out of 91 countries making them our most successful team ever and they beat the likes of the Netherlands, Belgium, Indonesia and South Africa," says Dr Arakdii Slinko, New Zealand's Team Leader and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at The University of Auckland.

The students had to get past more than 100 other secondary school students, a training camp and a four and half hour final exam to make the New Zealand team.

"It's a long and rigorous selection process so just to make the six person team is a great achievement," says Dr Slinko.

Dr Slinko was assisted by deputy leader Simon Marshall, the only New Zealand student to ever win a gold medal at the competition, helping train and mentor the students before and during the annual competition.

"Having past experience at the event allowed me to help guide the students in almost every area of the problem-solving and also prepare them mentally for the exams," says Simon, a Bachelor of Science student at The University of Auckland.

The team was also supported by The University of Auckland's Faculty of Science, which helped sponsor the team as well as contribute several staff members to train and prepare the team for the event.


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