Exceptional Computer Olympiad Results in 2007

When announcing the Computer Olympiad results for 2007 in Cape Town this week, Peter Waker, CSSA Vice President for Education and Training remarked on how unique this year’s results have been.

For the first time ever in the Computer Olympiad finals:

  • Three girls among the finalists
  • Two brothers in the finals
  • One school had four finalists
  • Four medal winners from the same school
  • Two brothers winning medals
  • Half the medals go to historically disadvantaged individuals.

The Computer Olympiad is an annual competition to identify, encourage and reward programming skills among high school learners.  The competition attracted nearly 33,000 entries for the First Round this year, and 3,300 for the Second Round. Twenty-two learners were invited to take part in the Final Round which took place at the University of Cape Town on 15 and 16 September.  The winners were announced at a gala function at the Shuttleworth Foundation on Monday evening.

The Gold Medal, Standard Bank Trophy and R41,000 was won by Mark Danoher, a Grade 12 student at Pearson High in Port Elizabeth.  This is the third time that Mark has reached the Computer Olympiad Finals.  In 2006 he won a Bronze Medal – and a place in the team that competed in the International Olympiad in Croatia.

The two Silver Medals went to brothers Saadiq and Haroon Moolla, both from Rondebosch Boys’ High.  Saadiq, now in Grade 12, was a Bronze Medal winner in last year’s Finals.  Brother Haroon, who is only in Grade 11 now, participated in the Finals for his first time.

To make the Rondebosch domination complete, Raeez Lorgat (Grade 12) and Robert Ketteringham (Grade 11) won two of the three Bronze Medals on offer.  Raeez has the distinction of having won the Computer Programming section of the Intel Science and Engineering Fair in the USA, and having a minor planet named after him.

Peter Waker, who organises the computer Olympiad, remarked: “The most medal winners we have ever had from one school is two.  Now we have four from the same school, and what is more, two are brothers.”

The only non-Rondebosch participant to get a Bronze Medal was young Schalk-Willem Krüger, from Grade 10 at Ferdinand Postma High School in North West Province.  Schalk-Willem, who skipped a Grade or two, participated for the second year.  Last year he was the youngest participant this century, this year he is the youngest medal winner this century.  [The youngest ever was Bruce Merry who won a Silver Medal while still in Grade 7 in 1995.]

Remarked Mike Murphy Sponsor of Standard Bank: “The aim of the Olympiad is to identify, encourage and reward programming skills.  The Olympiad shows that South Africa has the talent, but it needs to be developed and nurtured.”

IT multi-billionaire, Mark Shuttleworth, donated R100 000 in prize money for top six the participants who use the computer language Python in the Final Round of the competition.  This was the language used by Mark Shuttleworth to develop the software on which his first successful business was built.  By offering these prizes he wants to offer other young South Africans some of the same experiences and opportunities he had.

The Python Prizes were awarded as follows:
R30 000: Mark Danoher from Grade 12 at Pearson High, Port Elizabeth, EC
R20 000: Raeez Lorgat from Grade 12 at Rondebosch Boys’ High, WC
R20 000: Robert Ketteringham, Grade 11 at Rondebosch Boys’ High, WC
R10 000: Schalk-Willem Krüger, Grade 10 at Ferdinand Postma, NW
R10 000: Francois Conradie, Grade 11 at De Kuilen High, WC
R10 000: Francois van Niekerk, Grade 12, Parel Vallei High, WC

Karien Bezuidenhout of the Shuttleworth Foundation was inspired by the participants: “It is immensely rewarding and encouraging to note that not only do these medal winners possess excellent programming skills, they also already have their own visions of how these may be applied in future for the benefit of society, for example to provide affordable, wide-spread, broadband internet access to South Africans.”

At the function, the Computer Olympiad said farewell to long-time head of the Computer Olympiad Scientific Committee, Donald Cook.  Mr Cook was part of the group that set in motion the establishment of a Computer Olympiad in 1983 and has been head of the committee that sets the questions and checks the results since 1995.  He will retire to Bredasdorp.

Added Donald Cook: “I have been privileged to be part of the development of the Computer Olympiad and its infrastructure.  However, even more importantly I have been privileged to be part of the development and growth of many remarkable young people.”