The South African team that took part in the International Olympiad in Informatics in Athens has returned home with a gold medal. Richard Starfield of Johannesburg bagged the gold for the team, one of four students among the 296 participants from 79 countries in the sixteenth International Olympiad in Informatics.
The competition is for young computer programmers, and is held in a different country each year. South Africa was the host in 1997. The participants need to demonstrate their ability to solve problems by writing appropriate computer programmes. Each participating country sends a team of four students selected through a national competition.
"Just making the South African team is a tremendous achievement" said Peter Waker, chair of the Olympiad Committee. "The four who were sent to Athens were the top performers who came through a selection process that started with more than 12 000 participants in the first round of the South African Computer Olympiad."
Starfield was a pupil at King David High School in Johannesburg when he participated in the Computer Olympiad in 2003. He won the silver medal in the local competition and thereby an opportunity to compete in Athens this year. Starfield is currently studying for a BSc degree at Wits. Like many other computer programmers, he also loves music and mathematics.
"The first day of the competition was very tough," commented Bruce Merry, the team leader. "No one managed to get a good score. The second day was a bit easier and Richard scored 285 out of 300."
The other participants from South Africa were Marco Gallotta, a former Rondebosch Boys' High School pupil and now a BSc student at UCT, Linden Loots, a former pupil at Parel Vallei High School and now a BEng student at the University of Stellenbosch, and Nicholas Pilkington, a former pupil of Hilton College and now a BSc student at Rhodes University.
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