Durban – A 17-year-old Eden College pupil from Pinetown is believed to be the first in KwaZulu-Natal to have won the prestigious South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO) competition.
Aaron Naidu competed against over 90,000 pupils from across the country to be crowned the overall winner at an awards ceremony in Gordon’s Bay on Saturday evening.
The Grade 12 pupil was awarded the prestigious Dirk van Rooy Gold Medal, an iPad and a cash prize.
Over the last six years, he has won multiple maths competitions and Olympiads and is ranked the joint top SAMO medal recipient of all time.
Aaron lives in Cowies Hill with his parents, Dr Sean Naidu and Dr Anoshini Moodley, and his younger brother Jaedon.
He said he loves maths because not only is he good at it but also because it is the foundation for so many different fields.
“I feel great that I won because I worked really hard,” said Aaron.
Aaron attributes part of his success to his grandmother.
“When I was young my grandmother, who was a retired primary school teacher taught me multiplication tables, basic addition and subtraction. By the time I got to school, I was already quite good,” he said.
Aaron also praised his parents for being emotionally supportive and for helping him find the best tutors and coaches.
“They were also willing to travel around the country and the world with me,” he said.
Karen Morrison, the Principal and Head of the Mathematics department of Eden College, said Aaron is the school’s top academic student.
“He regularly has an aggregate of over 98% and he has had a love for maths and problem solving since he enrolled in grade 8,” said Morrison.
She said Aaron won the gold medal for the junior section of SAMO when he was in grade 9.
“He has been working very hard to achieve the gold medal again, which he has managed to do this year in grade 12,” said Morrison.
Morrison said as his maths teacher, Aaron would often come to her to help solve problems.
“In grade 11 the problems became too complicated for me to solve,” she laughed.
Morrison added that Aaron won the South African Tertiary Mathematics Olympiad.
She said the Tertiary Mathematics Olympiad is written by university students up to 4th year (honours) level. This year, just under 200 students from all the major universities across South Africa participated.
“Talented high school learners are allowed to participate and our very own Aaron Naidu entered and won the competition, becoming the first high-school student to be the outright winner of the Tertiary Olympiad,” said Morrison.
The principal described Aaron as a wonderful, intelligent student with a great sense of humour who remains humble despite all his successes.
“He is a genius, I have never taught someone as intelligent as he is,” said Morrison.
Morrison added that Aaron has the potential to be number one in South Africa.
Aaron will be entering the South Africa programming Olympiad in two weeks time.
Aaron was also part of the team that represented SA at the IMO (International Maths Olympiad) at the University of Bath in the UK in July. At this, the most prestigious Mathematical competition in the world, he competed against 621 of the world best maths students from 112 countries. He was awarded a Bronze Medal for his perfect solutions to 3 of the 6 problems.
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