By Peter Waker

While all the attention was on South Africans winning medals at the Olympic Games in Rio, South Africa won another two Bronze Medals:  this time at the International Olympiad in Informatics. The medals were won by Ulrik de Muelenaere from Gauteng and Yaseen Mowzer from the Western Cape. 

The International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) is an annual competition which sets the brightest young computer programmers from across the world to compete as individuals against each other.  This year the contest was held in Kazan, Russia and was attended by the best young programmers from 86 countries.

The South African team consisted of four members – all finalists in the 2015 Standard Bank Programming Olympiad who quaIified for the international team after additional training:

Ulrik de Muelenaere was in Grade 12 at Waterkloof High in Pretoria when he won the South African Programming Olympiad.  Ulrik was also a member of the South African team to go to IOI 2015 and won a Bronze Medal there.

Yaseen Mowzer is currently in Grade 12 at Fairbairn College in the Western Cape.  He also won a Bronze Medal at IOI 2015 in Kazakhstan and similar at the International Mathematics Olympiad earlier this year.  He is eligible to compete in the IOI in 2017 again.

Bronson Rudner is currently in Grade 12 at SACS in the Western Cape and can also compete again next year.  IOI 2016 inspired him:  “It has motivated me to practice hard for IOI 2017 next year.”

Laurens Weyn was in Grade 12 at Abbotts College, Century City when he was selected to join the IOI team.

The team leaders were Robert Spencer and Robin Visser both past Standard Bank Programming Olympiad winners and international participants.

“The problems were quite difficult this year.  The contest itself was very tight and exciting with Ulrich de Muelenaere making a submission at the last moment that boosted his score into bronze status” reports team leader Robert Spencer.

It was not all work.   “We were able to see many sights in Kazan, including the Kazan Kremlin”, added Robin Visser, deputy leader of the delegation.

Explained Peter Waker, the Manager of the Standard Bank Programming Olympiad:  “The IOI is extremely tough.   In many countries teams are in special schools where they receive dedicated training to prepare them for the IOI.   All our team members come from ordinary schools yet do extremely well each year.  To give you some idea;  our team member who was lowest in the South African team still beat the entire teams from Nigeria, Luxembourg and Sri Lanka.”

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