Two factors are common among the winners of the 2015 Applications Olympiad announced last week: all the winners take CAT (Computer Application Technology) or similar and all except one only changed school to go from primary school to high school. The exception went from Grade 1 to Grade 12 in the same school.

The Applications Olympiad challenges participants to use common computer applications such as word processors, spreadsheets and databases to solve a set of problems. Of the 13 193 who entered the Olympiad, only 15 made it to the finals which were held at Bergvliet High in Cape Town.

These 15 represented five provinces:

* Three were from the Eastern Cape;
* One was from the Free State;
* Three were from Gauteng;
* Two were from KwaZulu-Natal; and
* Six were from the Western Cape.

Jade Caldicott was the only female participant. “In the past the girls made up nearly half of all finalists, won many medals and in 2011 even won the competition outright; 2015 is just an unusual year,” says Olympiad manager Peter Waker.

Most unusually among the Grade 12 participants was the only Grade 9 ever to make it to the finals. Albert Dreyer will have to wait till next year before he can take CAT at school, but this has not stopped him from competing and winning a place in the finals. “He is fortunate that he can take advanced classes at the University of the Free State,” says Peter Waker.

“I hope more universities will offer such opportunities to deserving learners.”

The winner of the gold medal was Robert Wood from Michaelhouse, KwaZulu-Natal. Robert is a regular participant in the Programming Olympiad and Applications Olympiad – where he won bronze in 2014. Although he spends up to 15 hours per week on the computer, he also enjoys outdoor activities.

While going through their histories in order to prepare introductions for each of the medal winners, Peter Waker noticed that all of them had only ever attended one primary school and one high school – except Greg Harmse who had attended Lilyfontein School from Grade 1 to Grade 12. “There is something to be said for avoiding a change of schools” he says. “In future we will check whether this is a trend or merely a co-incidence.”

The final results are:

* Gold medallist: Robert Wood, Grade 12 at Michaelhouse in KwaZulu-Natal.
* Silver medallists: Fayaz Kimmie, Grade 12 at Islamia College in the Western Cape; and Matthew Symon, Grade 12 at Herzlia High in the Western Cape.
* Bronze medallists: Marc Domancie, Grade 12 at Edgemead High in the Western Cape; Greg Harmse, Grade 12 at Lilyfontein School in the Eastern Cape; Roché Visser, Grade 12 at President High in the Western Cape.
* Runners-up: Joshua Bruton, Grade 12 at Curro Aurora in Gauteng; Jade Caldicott, Grade 12 at Curro Mossel Bay in the Western Cape; Albert Dreyer, Grade 9 at UFS Python Project in the Free State; Isaac Gumbi, Grade 12 at Afrikaanse Hoër Germiston in Gauteng; Grant Oppelt, Grade 12 at Alexander Road High in the Eastern Cape; Marthinus Steyn, Grade 12 at Florida High in Gauteng; Pieter Theron, Grade 12 at Worcester Gymnasium in the Western Cape; Dylan Warwick, Grade 12 at Grey High in the Eastern Cape; Steve Yuk, Grade 12 at Domino Servite High in KwaZulu-Natal.