IMO 2014 (VIII)-Postlude

IMO 2014 was done, but not our overall business: just like how we traveled to Cape Town, our IMO schedule would never be done without our return to Malaysia. Inundated by my physical lassitude, I slept the whole flight of Cape Town-Johannesburg, oblivious of the food served on plane. Yet I wasn’t starving, since another 5 hours of stay gave room to celebrity breakfast at Raj Halal restaurant, which served opulent set meal to the team.

Fish+mutton+chicken. Temptation control failed 😀

That left us with souvenir buying, and meandering around the huge airport, under the enormous time available. However, we somehow learned (in a hard way) that we should have identified the gate as soon as we arrived the airport to prevent ourselves to be in extreme hurry.

The last flight, however, was slightly delayed by around one hour. Common stereotype of people would abhor this incident outright. However, nope, in this case. The original transit was just 1 hour 25 minutes (it was that packed that I remembered exactly the time), and this timely delay relieved our mind and footstep. In contrast to the westwards journey, we were ill-treated by Hong Kong custom officers this time,  bleakly demanding for second bag check after passing the scanner.

How about the real journey? Well, there was no urgent need to adjust to Malaysian time zone, so sleeping was considered secondary for us. Again, movie time, and games now! I received a warm invitation by Zi Song for on-board chess tournament. Being in perplexity between moving arbitrarily and trying adamantly to win, I chose the former as this opponent is Grandmaster of the team. Consequently, there was no crime for him to view me with haughtiness. Movie watching wasn’t that productive, either, with watching of “Thread of Lies” (a Korean movie that requires tissue paper from us) and “Rio 2” (children’s interest: cartoon!) However, Justin and Yi Kye utilized their expertise in time management by successfully clearing 8 episodes of “You Who Come From Stars” (I wished to finish that, though).

“All passengers, we will be landing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport shortly. Fasten your seat belt for your own safety.”

Excitement, loss of patience, looking forward, disinclined to accept that it was going to end… all emotions mixed in our hearts simultaneously. Following the “Loom…!” scream of the airplane while landing, with its running on the track, decelerating motion, and settling down at the gate eventually, we see our mental disposition in our home sweet home.

“Thank you for flying with Cathay Pacific, we hope to serve you again in the future!”

Our return journey was complete.

“Welcome back, heroes!”-Prof. Arsmah (IMO 2013)
No joke, that was her message to all of us upon our return. This year she wasn’t around, but the arrival hall was crowded due to the IMO-related people too! Pn. Zalina, Dr. Sakinah, families, media,…… And again, there was a gathering session, but no more briefing. Now the professional cameraman instructed us in different poses of photo-shooting (with/without the certificates, banners, and family members). That time you could enjoy the complacency of apparent “stars” or “idols”; the real idols might have been bored with this (obviously we were not). Not to forget the hug from parents after missing their sons for weeks.

14 Jul-Photo after arrival
14 Jul-team photo with all officers after arriving KLIA

After the end of “Click! Click!” session, we came to reluctant moment of bidding farewell with all other fellow teammates, loving trainers and esteemed officers. As the saying goes, however, friendship lasts forever, where the Facebook messenger group never went dormant.

Finally, Yi Kye and I were returned (by my parents) to our “second home”, Sunway Monash Residence. Thank god, that the next day was public holiday, and I had a good sleep (magical successful auto-adjust of time zone, haha!) before the next challenge come in: A-level.

Remember the media? There was coverage of IMO 2014 Malaysia all over the nation. And there was not only one.

1. The Star

2. The Heat (partial version is available online)

(Note!!!!!! That was 2nd and 3rd gold, not 4th and 5th. And there was a mistake in the UTAR ranking, it’s third for me, second for Zi Song, and first for Kin Aun).

3. Sunway College (Updated 16/10/2014)
An identical news here on New Sarawak Tribune (no idea why it’s there, though)

Post-IMO meeting
As named, three of us (from Penang!) took part in UTAR National Mathematical competition, taking another chance to be together. We travelled together (credits to Zi Song’s parents for transport), since I was in Penang for LLCM piano exam. We collectively own the problem solving-based in category A, but being speed calculation, category B was not a cup of tea for Olympians (Zi Song won a consolation prize). Category C, which was team activity, was won by university students, but there was no harm to give that a try 🙂

How about the other three? Hmm…Yi Kye is always around (same college what), and Justin came along from KYUEM (with friends) to meet us at Sunway Pyramid. It was such a long time since I felt the emotion of meeting a long-lost friend……

Finally, by hook or by crook, I will find an opportunity to meet the other one: Shazryl.

Post IMO thoughts
Well, well, well, I succumb to a hard geometry again, though I aimed to kill it. But not it was no longer important, since I won my very first gold medal in any mathematical olympiad in this prestigious international level. Furthermore, it adds interest to others that my only gold medal won is in the most prestigious olympiad: IMO.

Part of my success should be attributed to my luck: the cut off was just low enough at 29, I managed to solve the somehow difficult problem 5 without having any points deducted (yeah that script was a bit susceptible to this misfortune), and grabbed a garbage point for P3 (first time in my IMO!) In fact, “luck” was what I told others upon their congratulations.But luck wasn’t all. In fact, some named my success as well-deserved  with luck playing a role, while others even “dismissed” my statement of luck, and extolled me for my hard effort 🙂 Truly, being zealous is necessary to climb to the ultimate success of yours.

No story has better ending than “after 4 years of experience, after 4 years of effort, they finally won a gold medal!” My IMO journey, from the start to end, was full of obstacles. Take IMO 2011 as example: while I was elated for being in the team (although expecting only to top 20), I ended up with a relatively disappointing HM with 10 points. The consequent IMOs (with all other contests) went through high and low tides, and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Eventually, I can bring my smile to bed now!

Meanwhile, It is also a privilege for me to be in record-breaking team for entire 4 years. All four IMO teams worked like a family, selflessly taught others on knowledge that one already possessed, and spent time in chatting with one another in various topics (mathematical or not). In the end, the teams shone brightly at the IMO stage, and this process buttressed our “family” bond better than any clique (except my own family haha 😉 ).

It is not completely correct to say that I gained tonnes of mathematical knowledge and problem solving skills these four tumultuous years. What’s beyond that was friendship, life experiences, interpersonal skills, independence, maturity, etc.

Nothing can be done personally, and often, we need help of others. With this, I hereby express my gratitude to everyone who contributed to my success, including, but not limited to, the following:

1. MoE, for patronage and support.
2. JPN (State Department of Education), who provided transport for IMO camps.
3. PERMATA Pintar, for begin providing venue in 2012, even before its taking over of organizing IMO selection camps.
4. Dr. Sakinah (representative of PERMATA Pintar), who flawlessly handled IMO camps, especially in logistics and food catering during Ramadan month.
5. PERSAMA, for holding the responsibility of managing IMO selections till March 2014 (this society has been working hard for several years).
6. Professor Arsmah, who still listened to every details of IMO after her retirement, by visit, creating whatsapp group, etc. Along with this, I have to give credits to Ms Jamilah and Ms Masita, who apparently act as wardens to IMO campers, but turned out to be, as if, our mothers due to their continuous care. (In fact, Ms Masita made delicacies for us, like cinnamon rolls and pretzels).
7. Trainers and facilitators. There is no way the team could rise to this level without their coaching. Special thanks to Mr. Suhaimi, the head coach.
8. Mr. Suhaimi, Mr. Iqbal, Mr. Ikhwan and Professor Daud, who were, jointly, leaders and deputy leaders of IMO 2011-2014. They were part of trainers, and had taken good care of the six babies (every time) during the crucial week.
9. Parents, who gave me endless support. Physically, they drove me (and some others) to IMO camps during the absence of transport by State Education Department; mentally, they got into my IMO practicing activities, although they were (apparently) laymen in this field.
10. Parents of other team members, for the support to whole team. Specially thanks to Justin’s father who taught us meditation during IMO 2012 camp.
11. Teammates (combining IMO 2011-2014 there were 10 of them). This big family, along with the team leaders and deputies were sources of completeness. Special thanks to Justin who accompanied me for four years, including Russian trip and partner in leading JOM.
12. Other IMO campers, at least for the friendship, “good luck” wishes and gaming sessions.

With the end of my IMO journey, every drop of IMO moments would be mixed to form comprehensive memories, which blends well as a bottle of mixture as collection. Last, but not least, I look forward (as a veteran olympian) to the next IMO teams to do well, and break all possible records we have renewed these years. To Zi Song, who has still a long way to go, we are waiting for you to emerge from the international crowd and make Malaysia proud!

Ps: I completed my solution for P3 mentally a week after returning to Malaysia, which any paperwork. That gave a resemblance of a scene in “The Grand Piano”: the pianist playing the four chords of “La Cinquette” after the performance, and consequently able to unlock the treasure in the piano.

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