SA Wins Bronze at International Programming Olympiad

Four South African learners competed against the top young programmers from eighty other countries at the International Olympiad in Informatics in Brisbane Australia – one of them succeeded in winning a bronze medal.

Every year the four best young programmers from countries around the world are invited to participate in the International Olympiad in Informatics. The event is hosted by a different country every year – this year the host was Australia and the event was held in Brisbane (South Africa hosted the event in 1997 in Cape Town).

“Getting into the South African team is not easy,” explains team leader Peter Waker. “More than 4,000 entered the first round of the 2012 South African Programming Olympiad; 15 were selected for the Finals, the top six were invited for extra training and eventually four of them were chosen to represent South Africa at the 2013 International Olympiad in Informatics.

The First Round to select the team that will go to the International Olympiad in Informatics in Taiwan next year will be on Friday 26 July.” Schools that have not entered yet can still do so at http://www.olympiad.org.za/register-programming-olympiad/

The bronze medal was won by Robert Spencer, who was a learner at Westerford High in Rondebosch when he won his place on the team. Robert also competed in the IOI in Italy in 2012.
The only one of the team who will have a chance of competing again next year is Shaylan Lalloo who was in grade 11 at Pearson High in Port Elizabeth when he won his place in the IOI team. Shaylan will scarcely be back in South Africa when he has to leave again to take part in the International Mathematics Olympiad in Columbia.
The other two members who made up the team were Paul le Roux from Parel Vallei High in Somerset West and Janneman Gericke from De Kuilen High in Kuilsriver.

The competition was extremely difficult this year and was marred by technical problems. Sean Wentzel, the team’s deputy leader and himself a past IOI medal winner explains. “Not only are the problems becoming more difficult; the competition is also much tougher. Some countries have special classes or even special schools for competitors.”
Of the first four places at the IOI three were taken by learners from China. Nikolay Kalinin from Russia took the number three position.

It was not all hard work. The contestants had two days of sight-seeing – visiting the Sunshine Coast and the Australia Zoo. The South African team had much fun Geocaching in Brisbane and at the Sunshine Coast, along the way meeting competitors from other countries doing the same.