Chinese Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad 2010
UK Leader’s report by Ceri Fiddes

Overall the UK’s first participation in the Chinese Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad was successful and enjoyable. The team of four (Alice Ahn (Glasgow Academy), Andrea Chlebikova (Brighton Hove and Sussex SFC), Ruth Franklin (Manchester High School for Girls), Maithra Raghu (Henrietta Barnett School)) came 28th out of the 48 teams involved and came home with two silver medals, a bronze medal and first prize in the dance aerobics competition.

There were some minor travelling issues. We found that our carriage on the journey to Shijiazhuang did not exist and so we ended up all sitting in a single berth. The flights were superb and travel in China was straightforward.

The pre-competition camp was most enjoyable and proved to be good preparation. The girls sat an exam on four of the mornings (the first of these as a group) and then we did some sightseeing in the afternoon. The exams were either previous CGMO exams or Western China Olympiads. These proved to be a good level of difficulty and gave the girls plenty to discuss. The marked papers were given back and discussed over lunch. The girls discussed their approach to the questions, alternative methods and style of write up. It must be noted that Ruth Franklin, who has been in training for many years, produces near perfect write ups every time. During the pre-competition camp we also found time to visit the Great Wall.

The event was very well run indeed. We were met at the station by three people and allocated two guides. The guides were exceptional. They knew the schedule every day and ensured that we were in the right place at the right time. The girls became good friends with them. The accommodation was primitive, but perfectly adequate. We were all based at Shijiazhuang no. 2 middle school. There was no attempt to separate contestants from leaders. There was a shop on campus and so we could get provisions easily. The food provided was good and they went to great lengths to ensure that the vegetarians were well catered for.

The competition ran smoothly and facilities were fine. Leaders were given the questions an hour before the end of the competition and this enabled us to discuss the problems with the team as they came out. The girls’ scripts were given to us at 13:00 and we then had adequate time to mark before coordination at 19:00. Coordination was excellent. The scripts had been well read and we disputed very little.

The girls were pleased with their results, but there was a feeling that they could have performed better if they had been more aware of the format of the competition (they had not realised just how easy the first questions on each paper would be).

It was a most enjoyable experience. The girls made friends with candidates from all over China and the USA. They grew in confidence over the week and were a great support to each other. If we could continue to participate in competitions of this nature in future, I think it would have a very positive effect on the level of mathematical achievement in the UK and encourage more girls to aim for the IMO team.

[Photo of CGMO 2010 team and guides]
The CGMO team (Andrea Chlebikova, Maithra Raghu, Ruth Franklin, Alice Ahn) with their guides

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