The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is the World Championship Mathematics Competition for high school students. The first IMO was held in 1959, hosted by Romania, with seven countries participating: Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany and the USSR. The number of participating countries has increased to more than a 100 countries from all continents. Countries take turns to organise the IMO.
The contestants must be less than 20 years old and must not have any post secondary school education. There is no limit to how many times a person may participate in the IMO. The usual size of an official delegation to an IMO is (a maximum of) six students, along with the leader and deputy leader. The student competitor writes two contest papers on consecutive days, with three problems on each day. Each question is worth seven marks.
The event starts with an opening ceremony and the contest takes place the following two days. Each contestant has to solve 3 problems within 4½ hours on each of the two days in his/her own language. After the contest, the leaders and deputy leaders evaluate the solutions of their contestants and hold coordination sessions in order to ensure that the marking has been done correctly and consistently. During this time, the participants enjoy a varied entertainment programme including excursions and games.
The last day is for the closing ceremony, and the gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded for excellent performances. The International Mathematical Olympiad is an individual competition. Medals are awarded to at most half of the participating students. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded in the ratio of 1:2:3, so that about 1/12 of the students obtain a gold medal, about 1/6 of the students obtain a silver medal and about 1/4 of the students obtain a bronze medal. In order to encourage more students, and to encourage students to solve complete problems, recent practice has awarded a certificate of honourable mention to any student (not receiving a medal) who obtained full marks for at least one problem.
For more information about the IMO visit their website: www.imo-official.org
South Africa has taken part in the IMO every year since 1992. Performance of the South African team since 2010: