MEDIA RELEASE — July 22, 2009

Canadian Mathematical Society
Imperial Oil Foundation

July 22, 2009
Imperial Oil Foundation

Canadian Math Students Win Olympiad Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals

Strong performance advances Canada's international ranking

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OTTAWA, Ontario — In competition with students from 103 other countries, a team of six Canadian high school students performed exceptionally well, winning one gold, three silver and two bronze medals, at the 50th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) held in Bremen, Germany, from July 10 to July 22, 2009. The strong performance gave Canada an overall 18th place finish, up from 22nd last year, and the highest overall student performance in over fifteen years.

The six Canadian students - Robin Cheng, Pinetree Secondary School, Coquitlam (British Columbia); Jonathan Schneider, University of Toronto Schools, Toronto (Ontario); XiaoLin (Danny) Shi, Sir Winston Churchill High School, Calgary (Alberta); Hunter Spink, Western Canada High School, Calgary (Alberta); Chen Sun, A.B. Lucas Secondary School, London (Ontario); and Chengyue (Jarno) Sun, Western Canada High School, Calgary (Alberta) - were selected from among more than 200,000 students in grades 7 to 12 and in CEGEPs who participated in local, provincial and national mathematics contests.

The team was accompanied by the Team Leader Dorette Pronk (Dalhousie University), Deputy Team Leader David Arthur (Stanford), and Deputy Team Leader Observer Jacob Tsimerman (Princeton). Both David Arthur and Jacob Tsimerman are Canadian gold medal winners from previous IMO competitions.

At the Closing Ceremony on July 21st, a Gold Medal was awarded to XiaoLin (Danny) Shi, Silver Medals to Robin Cheng, Hunter Spink, and Chen Sun, and Bronze Medals to Jonathan Schneider and Chengyue (Jarno) Sun.

“This team of Canadian students performed exceptionally well with each student bringing home a medal. Everyone involved in supporting the team is extremely proud of their achievements on the world stage” said Dorette Pronk.

“The IMO is the world championship high school mathematics competition. The problems are difficult and challenging and Canadian students always turn in a strong performance. This year the talent and creativity displayed by the students was outstanding. Everyone is pleased to see the training, hard work and commitment so well rewarded.” said Dr. Graham Wright, of the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS), the organization responsible for the selection and training of Canada’s IMO team.

Although students compete individually, country rankings are obtained by adding the team scores. The maximum score for each student is 42 and for a team of six students the maximum is 252. The Canadian team placed 18th out of 104 competing countries with an overall score of 158, the highest total team score in over 15 years.

The 2009 medals brings Canada’s mathematics student medal count total to 17 gold, 40 silver, and 68 bronze, since 1981. Prior to leaving for the 50th IMO, the Canadian team trained from June 26th to July 12th at a special IMO Training Seminar held at the University of Calgary and at the Banff International Research Station.

The 2009 IMO contest was set by an international jury of mathematicians, one from each country, and was written on Wednesday July 15th and Thursday July 16th. On each day of the contest, three questions had to be solved within a time limit of four and a half hours. Student participants must be less than 20 years old when they write the IMO.

For the 2009 competition, the top 10 teams and their scores are: People’s Republic of China (221); Japan (212); Russian Federation (203), Republic of Korea (188); Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (183); United States of America (182); Thailand (181); Turkey (177); Germany (171); and Belarus (167).

The team will be returning to Canada today (July 22nd), in Toronto, London, Calgary, and Vancouver. For further details contact the Canadian Mathematical Society.

In addition to the Canadian Mathematical Society, sponsors of the 2009 Canadian IMO team include: the Imperial Oil Foundation; Sun Life Financial; NSERC PromoScience; the Banff International Research Station; the Samuel Beatty Fund; Maplesoft; Nelson Thomson Learning; John Wiley and Sons Canada Ltd; A.K. Peters Ltd; the Ontario Ministry of Education; Alberta Learning; Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth; Nova Scotia Department of Education; the Newfoundland and Labrador Ministry of Education; the Northwest Territories Ministry of Education; the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education; Centre de recherches mathématiques; the Fields Institute; the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences; the Department of Mathematics, University of British Columbia; the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Calgary; the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Dalhousie University; the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Ottawa; the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Regina; the Department of Mathematics, University of Toronto; the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, University of Waterloo; the Department of Statistics, University of Waterloo; and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, York University.

The 51st International Mathematical Olympiad will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan, in July 2010.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Graham P. Wright
Canadian Mathematical Society
Cel: (613) 290-3046

About the Canadian Mathematical Society

The Canadian Mathematical Society is the main national organization whose goal is to promote and advance the discovery, learning, and application of mathematics. The Society's activities cover the whole spectrum of mathematics including: scientific meetings, research publication, and the promotion of excellence in mathematics education at all levels. The CMS, in partnerships with others, annually sponsors math camps and competitions across Canada.