Cape Town - A primary school pupil participating in a high school Mathematics Olympiad beat thousands of older teens to place second in the country.
Grade 7 Panorama Primary pupil Emmanuel Rassou was entered in the junior category, for grades 8 and 9.
The 13-year-old boy from Plattekloof said he was “very proud” of himself.
“To be honest, I did not have the requisite experience and knowledge of high school maths to complete all the questions for the four-hour final paper.
“I therefore did not think I had much of a chance of a medal after not being able to tackle all the difficult questions in the final paper. This definitely came as a great surprise to me and everyone at my school,” Emmanuel said.
He said he loved maths as it “challenges me to learn new things”.
Emmanuel said to prepare for competitions he worked through past papers, and his father printed overseas lectures from which he revised.
Algebra was his favourite.
He advised others to “approach maths like it can help you in future, and get help from teachers - don’t to be afraid to ask”.
Emmanuel said his dream was to become an inventor.
He was also part of a team that represented the country at an Olympiad in India, where he won a bronze medal.
He described this experience as the “highlight” of his year.
“Going to India and experiencing all different cultures and religions from international entrants was really nice,” he said.
Despite all the time he dedicates to maths, he said he still believed he was “balanced”.
“I enjoy maths but I also do some athletics and I play rugby; I even made it to Western Province for athletics.”
The head of mathematics at Panorama Primary, Tanya Kellerman, said the school was very proud of Emmanuel.
“He is a star pupil for us.
“He is letting the world know about South Africa and he is a great ambassador for our school,” Kellerman said.
Kellerman said as a teacher it was important to encourage children to see maths was an all-round field for them and “not just calculations or ideas in a textbook”.