Victorian student wins bronze at International Olympiad in Informatics

John Monash Science School Year 12 student Quang Ong didn't let coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions stand in the way of success at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI).

Quang won a bronze medal at the 32nd annual IOI event in September and said he was euphoric that his hundreds of hours of preparation on topics such as data structures and algorithms paid off.

'I experienced feelings of satisfaction, excitement, pride - emotions amplified more than anything I have felt before,' he said of his achievement.

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, teams from 86 countries participated remotely from their homes, coding programs to solve complex problems under time and memory limits.

The IOI event consists of two different five hour exams consisting of three problems each.

Quang was one of four Australian students selected to compete as a team at this year's event, with all winning medals.

Hard work paid off

Quang worked hard for 18 months in the hopes of being selected for his country, solving more than 500 problems and participating in about 50 competitions and exams.

'I would sink in a handful of hours every week, solving past problems, sitting coding competitions and practice exams whenever they ran,' he said.

'In the fortnight leading up to IOI, we sat a total of seven, five-hour exams back-to-back every night to nail down exam technique.

'Eighteen months ago, I never intended to do so much informatics; I kept working because I loved it. My solve count surprises even me.'

Quang was the only government school student from Australia competing at the IOI.

He said the 'incredibly rewarding' event was about more than just solving problems.

'I didn't just learn about crazy data structures and algorithms,' he said.

'Performing at a high level taught me so much about myself, my capabilities, and just made me so much more aware of my own psychology.'

Proud of their student

John Monash Science School principal Peter Corkill said Quang was 'self-driven, genuinely inquisitive and a brilliant thinker'.

'Given the huge amount of work involved, alongside his other commitments in Year 12, we are all incredibly proud of Quang,' he said.

'We are in awe of his capacity, to be honest!'