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SUNDAY, AUGUST 30, 2015
T&T's Prasanna Ramakrishnan
captured a silver medal at the
PHOTO: MICHAEL RAMSINGH
...Prasanna Ramakrishnan says do
whatever you love with passion
Awinner in his own right---though
not in the ranks of Jamaican
sprinter Usain Bolt---17-year-old
Prasanna Ramakrishnan has won a silver
medal at the International Mathematical
Olympiad. But his achievement is unique.
Last year, Ramakrishnan won a bronze
medal. This makes him the first person
from T&T to win two medals at the
The Olympiad was held in Chiang Mai,
Thailand, in July. A team of four from T&T
competed this year. The team comprised
Ramakrishnan, Alex Navarro, Arjun Isa
Mohammed and Adam Superville. The team
was led by Dr Indra Haraksingh of The Uni-
versity of the West Indies (UWI) St Augus-
tine campus and chairman of the T&T
Mathematics Olympiad, and deputy leader
Jagdesh Ramnanan, also of the UWI.
"We are elated that Prasanna has brought
home a silver medal this year," said Dr
Haraksingh. Ramakrishnan s win is partic-
ularly noteworthy, given that this year s
competition was considered perhaps the
toughest in the history of the Olympiad.
Unfortunately, Ramakrishnan, who was
born in Jamaica, but has called T&T his
home for the last 15 years, will not be return-
ing to the competition for gold next year,
since he has already been accepted at Stan-
ford University. According to the rules of
the Olympiad, once a competitor has entered
college they will not be eligible to take part.
The math whiz shared his experience
whilst in Thailand, where he was flying the
red, white and black. "First of all, I want
to tell you that Olympiad maths is much
different from school math. Olympiad math
is much more emphasised on creativity,
ingenuity, because each problem in the
Olympiad has never been seen before. Each
year, each problem is created."
He said while in Thailand there was pres-
sure as you go up against the world, but it s
not a fierce environment. Over 100 countries
took part in this year s Olympiad. T&T has
been participating in the competition since
1991. T&T won a silver medal only once
before, in 2010. T&T has also won five
bronze medals and 23 honourable mentions
(where a participant gets full marks for solv-
ing one problem).
T&T is the only country from the Eng-
lish-speaking Caribbean to compete in this
global competition, and is the smallest coun-
try to win so many medals over the years,
Ramakrishnan and the team prepared
months in advance for the competition.
Dr Haraksingh said the local leg took place
from January to May. During this period,
the local committee runs a series of exam-
inations which are on an international level.
"We select the team finally from the
results of these exams and we normally
select up to six persons. In the last few years,
we send persons depending on the cost to
send the team.
"We have not sent less than four and this
year, it was only six since it s an expensive
venture to go to Thailand."
Ramakrishnan explained that before you
enter the examination room, "you have to
clear your mind because the Olympiad is
not formula specific, it s more focused on
creativity on the spot."
The exam took four hours, he said.
"Although this is my fifth time, each time
had its own experience, but I learnt from
my past and executed. Last year, I got a
bronze and I went again this year hoping
for gold, but had to concede for silver.
"I am glad I had the opportunity to rep-
resent Trinidad and Tobago on more than
one occasion. This journey will be mem-
orable and will play an integral part in my
Ramakrishnan said his brother Prithvi
was his inspiration as he too competed at
this international competition and achieved
an honourable mention. He is also a student
of Stanford University.
With weeks to go before Ramakrishnan
heads to Stanford University, he had some
advice for the youth of T&T.
"Math is something we all seem to hate,
but there is beauty in everything. However,
whatever you find that you love, do it with
passion and it will become enjoyable. And
most of all, you will succeed."
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