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Campus unrest affects Programming Olympiad

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It is not only the future of the 2016 academic year that hangs in the balance; other organisations using campus facilities are affected too.
What do you do when you have booked accommodation and paid for learners to fly in from all over the country, and with less than a week to go, the facilities you planned to use are no longer available? This was the problem that faced the organisers of the Standard Bank Programming Olympiad last week.
Fortunately a local school came to the rescue and made its facilities available. It took a few late nights and early mornings of hard work, but when the finals of the Programming Olympiad started, all was ready for the three-day event.
“This involved changing from Windows to Ubuntu, loading and testing IDEs and numerous other changes,” says Robert Spencer, the scientific committee member who was in charge of implementing the last-minute changes.
The finals results proved that experience does count. Four out of the six medal winners have been in Olympiad finals before.
Olympiad manager Michael Cameron comments: “There was a vigorous exchange of coding strategies as the 17 finalists walked down to the local steakhouse for supper after five-hours of sitting focussed at their computers. The finalists valued ‘meeting like-minded people for a weekend’ in what one described as ‘by far the toughest thing I’ve ever done, but certainly well worth the experience’.”
The gold medal and the coveted Standard Bank trophy were won by Bronson Rudner from Grade 12 at the South African College School (SACS). In addition, he won R11 000 for himself and R5 000 for his school.
Rudner also excels in Maths and is a veteran of four International Maths Olympiads. He was a South African Programming Olympiad Finalist in 2014, and won a silver medal at last year’s 2015 Finals. He was a member of the team that represented South Africa at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in Kazan, Russia earlier this year.
Silver medal winner Yaseen Mowzer from Grade 12 at Fairbairn College is also an Olympiad veteran, having taken part in his first programming finals when he was still in Grade 9. He was a star at both the International Maths Olympiad and the International OIympiad in Informatics, returning home with a bronze medal from both.
The other silver medal went to David Broodryk, a Grade 12 learner at Westerford High School. Broodryk is unusual in that he is not a previous finalist.
Bronze medals went to veterans Ralph McDougall in Grade 10 at Curro Durbanville, and repeat bronze winner Sanjiv Ranchod in Grade 12 at Westerford High School. McDougall was only in Grade 8 when he attended his first Programming Olympiad Final in 2014.
A newcomer to the finals is bronze medal winner Taariq Mowzer. He is in Grade 9 at Fairbairn College, but is already making a mark by winning a medal while only in Grade 9; a feat only equalled this century by his older brother Yaseen Mowzer in 2013.
“This is only our second Grade 9 medal this century,” explains retired Olympiad manager Peter Waker. “Only Taariq’s brother Yaseen succeeded in winning a medal at such a young age. Yaseen went on to win silver in 2013. It is also the first time in the 33 year history of the Programming Olympiad that we have had two brothers in the finals.”
This is also the first time in the Programming Olympiad history that so many of the medal winners have been taught by the same teacher. How can this happen when they are at different schools? Rudner is a SACS learner, but Ranchod and Broodryk go to Westerford. However the two Westerford stars go to SACS for afternoon IT classes. Their teacher, Mike Scordilis is very modest about his own role: “These are pretty much self-taught pupils,” he says.
The finals results were as follows (alphabetical by surname where applicable):

 

 

Medal Name and Surname Grade School Location  
Gold Bronson Rudner 12 SACS Rondebosch  
Silver David Broodryk 12 Westerford Rondebosch  
Silver Yaseen Mowzer 12 Fairbairn College Goodwood  
Bronze Ralph McDougall 10 Curro Durbanville Durbanville  
Bronze Taariq Mowzer 9 Fairbairn College Goodwood  
Bronze Sanjiv Ranchod 12 Westerford Rondebosch  
Runner-up Arul Agrawal 11 Crawford College Lonehill Johannesburg
Runner-up Torsten Babl 12 Paarl Boys’ High Paarl
Runner-up Stephan Cilliers 10 Parklands College Parklands
Runner-up Donal Davies 11 Woodridge Port Elizabeth
Runner-up Warren Hood 10 Eshowe High Eshowe
Runner-up Michael Mawere 12 Hilton College Hilton
Runner-up Andrew McGregor 12 Rondebosch Boys’ High Rondebosch
Runner-up Joseph Rautenbach 12 Glenwood House George
Runner-up Francois Snyman 12 Thomas More College Kloof
Runner-up Francois Theron 12 Hermanus High Hermanus
Runner-up Stephan van Deventer 12 Robertson High Robertson