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Shrewsbury pupil Olivia wins place in worldwide maths challenge finals

By Lucy Todman | Shrewsbury | Education | Published:

A budding mathematician from a Shrewsbury college has won through to the finals of a worldwide maths challenge.

Olivia Guo

Concord College student Olivia Guo has spoken of her delight at winning the Who Wants To Be A Mathematician Championship.

Olivia, 17, was one of four contestants to qualify for the UK final of the competition in London hosted by stand-up mathematician Matt Parker.

She said: "I didn’t expect to win the UK final as the other contestants were also very strong and the scores were very close.”

Olivia went on to say: “With regard to the difficulty of the questions, they were actually not very hard to solve, but finishing each in one minute was a big task.

“Moreover, the buzz round was extremely difficult for me since I normally tend to answer questions when I am ninety per cent sure. Also, I will try to learn more about the history of mathematics, which may appear in the final.”

She added: “I will just regard this competition as good experience, otherwise there would be too much pressure.”

Simon Singh, chair of Good Thinking, which sponsors the UK portion of Who Wants To Be A Mathematician, said: “With more than a thousand students from around the UK taking part, all the finalists should feel very proud of themselves.

“We wish Olivia the very best of luck for the grand final in January.”

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Proud

Dr Tom Phoenix, Concord’s head of mathematics said: “The mathematics department are extremely proud of Olivia’s truly phenomenal success in the national final of Who Wants to be a Mathematician.

“I am delighted by Olivia’s truly remarkable success. The competition was extremely demanding, it required superb subject knowledge and quick and accurate answers on a large range of topics.

“We wish Olivia the greatest success at the international final in January.”

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Maths teacher Kelly Arthur who accompanied Olivia to the UK final said: “There were two rounds, each involving 10 questions, all multiple choice. In the first round each of the four finalists had a full minute to answer each question, when they had to hold up their answer.

“Olivia stormed this round, there was never a time she wasn’t in the lead. In the second round, the contestants could buzz in early and deny their opponents points. It was very fast paced and Olivia had a much harder time during this round.

“It was a nail-biting finish - literally, my fingertips nearly bled! But luckily Olivia’s cool head prevailed, resulting in victory.”

Eleven contestants from the US and Canada will join Olivia in Baltimore for the championship on January 19.

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman
@shroptod

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.

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