World’s brightest young minds head to University of Bath STV for 60th International Mathematical Olympiad

16 July 2019

The University of Bath Sports Training Village is hosting a different kind of competition this week – the 60th International Mathematical Olympiad.

The brightest young minds from more than 100 countries spanning all five continents are staying on campus and taking on challenging exams in the STV sports hall as the UK hosts the World Championship Mathematics Competition for high school students for the first time since 2002.

Someone who aspired to compete at a Mathematical Olympiad as a teenager and has now set the qualification standard for his second sporting Olympiad is Joe Choong, the newly-crowned Modern Pentathlon World Cup Final Champion who trains and studied at the University.

He has combined maths and sport at the highest level for many years – he was still studying for his Mathematics degree when he represented Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games – and has shared some words with advice with those representing their country in Bath this week.

“I’d like to say good luck to all the students competing this week and, as my old maths teacher used to tell me, remember to show your working!” said Choong, who graduated in 2018.

Joe Choong celebrates as he wins gold at the 2019 Modern Pentathlon World Cup Final in Tokyo. Picture credit: UIPM / Nuno Goncalves“I remember doing the UK Maths challenge to qualify for the Olympiad and that the questions suddenly got astronomically tougher. I think this competition is another qualification step on from what I did, so I can’t imagine how difficult some of the questions would be now and I’m sure these students could all teach me a few things about logic and problem solving.”

Choong, who is set to compete at the University of Bath himself from August 6-11 when it hosts the 2019 Modern Pentathlon European Championships, says many mathematical skills that he gained through his education can be applied to his sport.

“I love that with maths there’s always an answer somehow and there is always a logical step to finding and interpreting the answer, often in a real-world situation,” he said.

“These skills contribute massively to my approach to sport – I feel like you cannot improve in sport without constantly analysing yourself and others and learning what works. The logical and analytical skills that maths has taught me have been a key factor in terms of my own self-improvement.”

The opening ceremony of the International Mathematical Olympiad took place at The Forum in Bath on Monday afternoon and the two days of examinations will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Contestants will then have two days of excursions in Bath and the surrounding area while the results are determined before medals are presented at the closing ceremony on Sunday. Visit for further details.

Tickets for the 2019 Modern Pentathlon European Championships in Bath, a qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games, are on sale now – click here to find out more.

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