Six young South African mathematicians will be representing the country at the 61st International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) later this month. They are Kgaogelo Bopape (Grade 12) from Horizon International School in Gauteng, Kerry Porrill (Grade 11) from Cannons Creek Independent School in the Western Cape, Andi Qu (Grade 12) from St John's College in Gauteng, Emmanuel Rassou (Grade 10) from South African College Schools in the Western Cape, Juliette Roux (Grade 10) from Herchel Girls' High School in the Western Cape, and Jean Weight (Grade 12) from Curro Hermanus in the Western Cape.
“South Africa has participated in the IMO since 1992 with the highest ranking of 27th in 1999 and 2000,” says Prof Kerstin Jordaan, Executive Director at the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF). “Last year, Kgoagelo and Andi received honourable mentions for their participation in the IMO.”
Each country selects a team of six learners. This year’s South African team was selected based on the results of last year’s South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO) and other SAMF Olympiad programmes. The SAMO, including the South African team’s training camps, is sponsored by Old Mutual and co-sponsored by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).
"The IMO was due to take place in Saint-Petersburg in Russia in July. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed to 21 and 22 September and changed into a virtual event," says Liam Baker, the SA team's leader. Mr Baker participated in the IMO in 2008 and 2009, and his role as team leader is to help the team prepare for the Olympiad.
Each participating country will have a central exam centre that will observe social distancing, and that will be monitored via webcams by the Olympiad hosts in Russia. The virtual closing ceremony will be taking place on 28 September, during which the results are made public.
"We would like to congratulate the students who will be representing South Africa," says Celiwe Ross, Human Capital Director at Old Mutual, the main sponsor of the Old Mutual SAMO programme. The sponsorship includes the Olympiad, training for the IMO, the Pan African Mathematics Olympiad, as well as the training of mathematics teachers in partnership with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences Schools Enrichment Centre (AIMSSEC). "We acknowledge the years of preparation, starting with the South African Mathematics Challenge (SAMC) in primary school and then the South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO) in high school. We wish them best of luck as they make final preparations for the IMO."