International Olympiad builds both knowledge and friendships

As published at

While their classmates are enjoying the winter school holidays, eight talented students will be representing Australia in the 25th International Olympiad in Informatics being held in Brisbane.

Starting on Monday July 8, the Australians will be competing with more than 300 other students from over 80 countries for the gold medal in the prestigious mathematical problem-solving competition.

For Michael Chen, 15, challenging himself in informatics is not the only thing he enjoys about the competition, describing the Olympiad as a good opportunity to establish friendships.

“All the people you meet going through informatics are all pretty like-minded in certain respects, and you can talk to about things that you can’t usually talk about at school or in general,” Michael said.

“You really don’t get to meet as many people as you do, from as many places, as you do through something like this.”

Fellow team member Joshua Lau, 17, agreed, saying that he was “just here for a good experience”.

“Just being in this atmosphere and meeting different people from all over the world is just great,” Joshua said.

Even with New Zealand, a classic Australian rival, the team members are “on very friendly terms” according to Australian Team Leader and former IOI contestant Jarrah Lacko.

“We sometimes share training exercises and techniques,” Mr Lacko said.

“There’s some form of friendly rivalry, of course we’re completely against their team in competitions, but it’s very much friendly.”

Australia has participated in the IOI since 1999 but this is the first time Australia has hosted the competition.


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