Israel's team for the International Mathematical Olympiad
completed the 2012 competition with five medals including three silver, one bronze and one with a special citation.
The competition which was held in Argentina
saw 100 teams from around the world competing for gold. North Korea, China,
the US, Russia and Canada were at the top of the rankings while Israel's
team reached 31 place, shared with Germany,
and came ahead of teams from France (38), Switzerland (52) and Finland (65).
After managing to win a gold medal in last year's competition and jump 30 places in the rankings from 53rd place to 23rd, the bar was set at a higher standard and the team's goal was to get to one of the top 15 places.
This meant intensive preparations for the team throughout the year including a special training camp at the Weisman Institute with Olympic level tests.
Israel's Olympiad team
Yet the road to Argentina included many obstacles. Unfortunately, the team members – Konstantin Zebreni (18), Yoav Kraus (17), Daniel Hadas (17), Ofer Grossman (17), Amotz Oppenheim (16) and Omri Nissan (15) – were forced to endure an emergency landing in Italy after a bird got caught in the plane's engine.
The shocked students then had to wait in Rome for two days for their connection to Buenos Aires where they landed just hours before the competition began.
"There is no doubt that the results could have been better, but this is still a great achievement with three silver medals and we are very proud of our students," said team coach Lev Radziolivsky.
"It is my belief that the flight disruptions and the pressure to make it to the competition in time took its toll on the students who arrived (in Argentina) exhausted and could not prepare suitably, but we always look forward and hope that next year we will have higher achievements."
Education Ministry Director General Dalit Strauber said that the children represented Israel with honor and reached impressive achievements. "They brought honor and pride to the State. The education system will continue to invest effort and resources in strengthening the excellence and promote achievements," she added.