Experiencing the Thrill of International Competition at the World Mathematical Olympiad

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Experiencing the Thrill of  International Competition at the World Mathematical Olympiad

By Carolyn Zhang

Spirit of Math Student 

As the sun rose, we climbed aboard the bus, and drove off to the 2016 World Mathematical Olympiad Finals in Seoul, South Korea.

I had waited for this day for weeks and now that it was finally here, I could barely believe it! We proudly marched to our seats, as Spirit of Math’s Team Canada, with cameras swiveling around us, trying to capture every moment. We sat down, and waited, as we were greeted by the cheerful organizers. I took a deep breath as the organizers handed out the “Individual Competition” booklets. When they announced that we could begin, I eagerly began writing the 90 minute contest.

After the individual round, we had to create a tower, using limited materials, that could withstand the weight of 500 ml of water. As a team, we worked together, and managed to successfully complete this challenge.

Then, we started the team competitions. We went to many stations, trying to complete the task at hand. The station I remember best, required strong teamwork to complete the assignment. There were three cubes, with sides that were either red, green, blue, or yellow. As a team, we were tasked with stacking the cubes so that on each face of the tower, there would be different colours. After trying multiple times, we discovered a strategy. After applying that strategy, we easily finished the task.

After completing many other stations, we moved on to the math relay. We would answer three questions, and after answering the final question, the entire team would sit on an inflated caterpillar, and ride to the finish line.


Following the relay, it was time for the “Culture Exchange”, each contestant had prepared a present for another contestant from a different country. I received a bag filled with items from Malaysia that I’d never seen before.

It was the end of the competition, and I left with a terrific experience that I will cherish forever.


You could never understand the thrill of competing proudly for your country, until you’ve experienced it for yourself.


Spirit of Math Schools (SoM) will once again be Releasing the Genius at the 2017 World Mathematical Olympiad in Beijing, China on August 12.

In preparation for the 2017 competition, SoM will be undergoing a comprehensive selection process to determine who will represent Team Canada in Beijing. Two teams will be formed with a total of 12 team members, 6 students per team.

The selection process for Team Canada will consist of an average score from two preliminary rounds, with the top 10% invited to write the WMO National Canadian Finals at Spirit of Math head offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Ottawa.

Contest dates are as follows:

  • Preliminary round #1: April 28th at 5 p.m.
  • Preliminary round #2: May 5th at 5 p.m.
  • WMO National Canadian Finals: May 12th at 5 p.m.

Those representing Team Canada will be given additional contest training in preparation for the Beijing competition. More details on this selection process and the event will follow throughout April.

Not all campuses will be able to accommodate these contests, however we have several locations across the country that are available on a first-come, first-serve basis due to capacity constraints. To enter Spirit of Math’s WMO selection process,please register online with your preferred location before April 27. 

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