A Grade thirteen school boy from Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala brought honour to Sri Lanka at the International Mathematical Olympiad by winning a Bronze Medal.
Supun Thamara Samarakoon won the medal at the 46th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) which is the world championship mathematics competition for students under 20 years of age and is held annually in a different country.
This year it was held in Merida, Mexico and 513 students from 91 countries participated in this event - each invited country is entitled to send a team consisting of up to six contestants.
The Sri Lankan team was selected and trained by the Sri Lanka Olympiad Mathematics Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the Department of Mathematics, University of Colombo. Supun won the Bronze Medal by scoring 15 points, which included two perfect scores (seven out of seven) for the two Geometry problems. The cutoff for the Bronze Medal was 12 points.
Supun who lost his father when he was 12 years old was born and brought up in Galvanguwa, Narammala; a small village about 21 kilometres from Kurunegala town. A Grade 12 student from Ananda College, Colombo 10, Buddhi Mahindaratne, won an Honorable Mention by getting a perfect score for one of the two Number Theory problems. Winning both a Bronze Medal and an Honorable Mention has been the best performance by a Sri Lankan team at the IMO so far.
Selection of the Sri Lankan team was based on the Sri Lankan Mathematics Competition in which over a thousand students from government, private, and international schools and the Sri Lankan Mathematics Challenge Competition participated.
The Sri Lanka Olympiad Mathematics Foundation, which conducts these two competitions, is the dream child of Chanakya J. Wijeratne, the Head, Department of Mathematics, University of Colombo. A number of faculty members of the Department of Mathematics, University of Colombo offered their voluntary services in setting, conducting, and marking of these competitions and it was through such a team effort that the Sri Lankan team was able to achieve the rare honour of wining a Bronze Medal and an Honorable Mention. Part of the funding for the Sri Lankan team came from the President`s fund.