Right until the very last question on the last day of this year’s Programming Olympiad, the two top participants matched each other question by question and mark by mark.

“It was uncanny,” says Peter Waker, manager of the Olympiad. “Both Ulrik de Muelenaere and Yaseen Mowzer had 100% for the first task on the first day. That can easily happen. Both again scored 100% for the second task. A happy coincidence. Both got 55% for the last task of the day. It could still be a coincidence. However, when both got 100% for the first two tasks on the second day it looked as if a tie for gold was likely. Only the last task on the last day separated them, with Ulrik beating Yaseen by 36 points.”

Both De Muelenaere and Mowzer are experienced participants at international level. Ulrik won bronze in 2014 and 2015 at the International Olympiad in Informatics. Yaseen has won bronze at both the International Maths Olympiad and the International Olympiad in Informatics. Yaseen is only in Grade 11 at Fairbairn College in Cape Town and will have another shot at winning gold in 2016. Ulrik is in Grade 12 at the Hoƫrskool Waterkloof in Pretoria and cannot compete again in 2016. Ulrik intends to study Computer Science at the University of Pretoria next year.

Ulrik won the prestigious Standard Bank Trophy, the gold medal, R11 000 for himself and R5 000 for his school.

Yaseen won a silver medal, R7 000 for himself and R3 000 for his school.

The other silver medal went to Bronson Rudner, a Grade 11 learner at SACS.

Bronze medals went to Tae Jun Park of Rondebosch Boys’ High, Sanjiv Ranchod from Westerford and Laurens Weyn from Abbotts College Century Gate.

The runners up were:
Torsten Babl from Grade 11 at Paarl Boys’ High
Donal Davies from Grade 10 at Woodridge College, Port Elizabeth
Jarryd Dunn from Grade 12 at the International School of Cape Town
Daniel Jenkins from Grade 12 at York High, George
Jiaqi Ke from Grade 11 at Roedean School, Johannesburg
Ralph McDougall from Grade 9 at Curro Durbanville
Joseph Rautenbach from Grade 11 at Glenwood House, George
Jeremy Wilkinson from Grade 12 at Bishops, Cape Town.