China Girls Math Olympiad: Success for U.S. Teams
August 16, 2007
Sherry Gong, from Exeter, N.H., earned a gold medal and tied for first place at the 2007 China Mathematical Olympiad for Girls, which was held in Wuhan, China, from August 11-16.
The MAA co-sponsored the participation of two four-member teams of high school girls — one made up of participants from the eastern U.S. and one from the western U.S. This was the first time the U.S. participated in that math olympiad, which has been held annually since 2002.
The East team members were Sway Chen (Lexington, Mass.), Jennifer Iglesias (Aurora, Ill.), Wendy Hou (Tampa, Fla.), and Sherry Gong. The West team members were Marianna Mao (Fremont, Calif.), Wendy Mu (Saratoga, Calif.), Colleen Lee (Palo Alto, Calif.), and Patricia Li (San Jose, Calif.). These students were chosen from the ranks of the top female finalists in the 2006 USAMO.
There were about 180 students from 42 teams in the China competition. Zhuo Chen, from Wuhan, China, tied Gong for first place with 114 points (out of 120). U.S. team member Wendy Hou received a silver medal, while Wendy Mu, Patricia Li, and Mariana Mao garnered bronze medals.
The Olympiad problems that the participants tackled are available at www.msri.org/specials/gmo/files/cgmo07.pdf.
To get ready for the contest in China, the young high school women spent July 16-Aug. 6 at the "AwesomeMath" summer program, in Dallas, which was designed to hone their problem-solving skills up to the Olympiad level; that is, to help them think creatively about mathematical concepts. This preparation gave them a chance to get to know one another, build team spirit, and develop the confidence to participate in international competition.
The teams went to Beijing, then to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, in central China, for the competition. For photos and messages from the girls during their travels, see www.msri.org/specials/gmo.
Coaches for the U.S. team were Melanie Matchett Wood, a graduate student at Princeton who was the first female to make a U.S. International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) team; Alison Miller, a member of the 2004 U.S. IMO team; and Zuming Feng of Phillips Exeter Academy and director of the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program since 2003.
Other sponsors of the U.S. teams were the IBM Almaden Research Center; Akamai Foundation; Mathematical Sciences Research Institute; Shiing-Shen Chern Foundation for Mathematical Research; and Sunlin and Priscilla Chou Foundation.