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April 2002



South Africa scoops gold medals at the Pan African Mathematics Olympiad


A South African team of four high school students were the overall winners of the 12th Pan African Mathematics Olympiad (PAMO), held in Pretoria over 6-14 April 2002. PAMO 2002 was hosted by the Foundation for Education, Science and Technology (FEST).

Tamara von Glehn (St Stithian's Girls' College, Randburg), Yao-hung Ou (Christian Brothers' College, Bloemfontein), Fritz van Zyl (HS Brackenfell, Cape Town) and Theo Mokgatlhe (St Dominic's College, Welkom) were awarded gold medals for their performance in the Olympiad. The four South Africans claimed the top four positions in the Olympiad and won first place in the overall team rankings. Tamara von Glehn, top performer, was awarded a laptop as part of her prize and Fritz van Zyl was also awarded a special prize for a highly original solution to one of the problems.

The awards were presented at a gala banquet in Pretoria, attended by the Minister in the Office of the State President, Mr Essop Pahad, the Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Dr Ben Ngubane, representatives of the embassies of a number of African countries and many other dignitaries.

This was the 12th PAMO, an annual event which first took place in 1987. Eleven countries (the highest number of participants ever) participated this year: Benin, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Lesotho, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

The students wrote two four-and-a-half hour papers on two successive days. Each paper consisted of just three questions. An International Jury, consisting of representatives of all participating countries, set and marked the papers and ranked the students in order of achievement.

The top ten contestants and their scores were:

  1. Tamara von Glehn (South Africa) (36)
  2. Yao-hung Ou (South Africa) (31)
  3. Fritz van Zyl (South Africa) (30)
  4. Theo Mokgatlhe (South Africa) (29)
  5. Eunice Lemamou (Benin) (22)
  6. Issouff Traore (Burkina Faso) (19)
  7. Sonagnon Godonou (Benin) (18)
  8. Innoussa Sorgho (Burkina Faso) (17)
  9. Lenkoe Sepinare (Lesotho) (15)
  10. Yelognisse Alia (Benin) (15)

The team ranking was:

  1. South Africa
  2. Benin
  3. Burkina Faso
  4. Zimbabwe
  5. Lesotho
  6. Mali
  7. Mozambique
  8. Nigeria
  9. Swaziland
  10. Central African Republic
  11. Namibia

The South African team was selected after a year-long Mathematical Talent Search, organised by the South African Mathematical Society and sponsored by Old Mutual. The team attended a week-long Mathematical Camp at Rhodes University just prior to the Olympiad.

PAMO 2003 is scheduled to take place in Mozambique.

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