U.S. Wins International Math Olympiad for Second Year in a Row

By Liana Loewus — July 18, 2016 2 min read
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After a 21-year drought, the United States has now won the prestigious high school math competition known as the International Math Olympiad for two years running.

The team took home first place at this year’s competition, which was held July 6-16 in Hong Kong. Two of the six U.S. competitors were also on last year’s winning team.

During the competitions, students worked on solving six problems individually over two 4.5-hour sessions.

The U.S. team scored 214 points out of a possible 252. Korea and China were just behind, with 207 and 204 points respectively, reports the New York Times.

“We are very excited to bring home another first-place IMO award, which serves as a recognition for the high standard of mathematical creativity and problem-solving capabilities we have in our country,” Po-Shen Loh, the lead coach for the U.S. team and an associate professor of mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University, said in a statement.

Recently, I wrote about the pathways students take to get to elite math competitions. In most cases, the training happens outside of the school day, through after-school clubs, summer camps, online forums and classes, and university-based “math circles.”

The direct feeder for the IMO is the Math Olympiad Summer Training Program—a free, three-week math camp held by the Mathematical Association of America. The six U.S. team members trained with about 70 of their peers there in June.

As my previous coverage noted, elite math competitions, including the IMO, tend to be dominated by white and Asian males. (You’ll note that the U.S. team had no girls this year or last. In fact, according to, the United States has averaged 0.2 girls per team since 1993.) But some programs such as MathCounts and Bridge to Enter Mathematics are working to get more girls and African-American and Hispanic students competing in advanced math.

Image: U.S. International Mathematical Olympiad team members, from left, Ankan Bhattacharya, Allen Liu, Ashwin Sah, Michael Kural, Yuan Yao, Junyao Peng, and coach Po-Shen Loh. —Carnegie Mellon University

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.