Monday 1st August 2016

Kevin Shen: IMO 2016 Hong Kong Report

On the 8th of July, six eager young mathematicians set off on an 11-hour flight to Hong Kong for the 57th International Mathematical Olympiad. We had just completed one week of intensive training. Upon arrival, we were quickly greeted by stifling heat of a typical tropical summer, with temperatures reaching the high thirties. On our way to our lodgings at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, we were able to see the absurdly large port that Hong Kong has. At the University we meet our tour guide Joanna Cheng, which would be with us for the next week. That night we were greeted with an incredible thunderstorm with over 6000 strikes of lightning.

The next day was the opening ceremony where we got to see the other contestants and finally see our team leader again, after he had been separated for a few days to selects the contest problems during jury meetings. During the ceremony, we enjoyed a series of wonderful musical performances and each team got to paraded on stage. Afterwards, many contestants started throwing paper planes around, which was amusing to watch. On our way back to our lodgings, tragedy strikes! A certain individual who is not to be names left our team mascot Tuffley Jnr on the bus, just hours after being returned from being kidnapped by the Australian team. Alas, Tuffley Jnr was not returned this time and his whereabouts are still unknown.

The next two days were the contest days. Some of the tea had sat an IMO before and others were newcomers, but we could all agree that we were a bit jittery going in. The problem on both days turned out to be of average difficulty, compared to the absurdly hard difficult problems last year. Most of our team managed to solve the first question on both days, with some partial marks on the remaining questions. After the contest, everyone could finally relax. We headed out on our first excursion to Disneyland! There were so many cool rides and we got to go on most of the ones we wanted to. The next excursion was to a variety of places, including a marketplace, a historical site and up Hong Kong’s famous peak.

Another great part of the IMO experience is all the different people from around the world that you get the opportunity to meet. It was a shame that because of where people were accommodated, it resulted in people being separated so it was difficult to find people. None the less, we all made some new friends at the Imo and whether you do well or not, you always get something out of coming to the IMO.

In the end, the NZ team got a medal haul of one silver and one bronze, both of on the medal boundary as well as three other honorable mentions, ranking 53rd, which was a typical performance by New Zealand.

Time passes so quickly and soon it was the closing ceremony, where everyone was treated a very fancy dinner, which was a highlight of the event and many of us had not experienced such fine dining.

The next day we were waving goodbye to our guide who had taken us around Hong Kong for the last week, who we were all thankful to have last week as your guide. Soon we were flying out back to NZ after a very quick week at the IMO.

I would like to thank our team manager Phil Truesdale who had to put up with us for over a week, as well as our Team Leader Michael Albert and Deputy Leader Stephen Mackereth for arguing with the coordinators for our marks. Thanks also go to the Royal Society and our school, as well as any other sponsors that provided the financial means to make this trip possible and their help was greatly appreciated.