Taranaki can claim another Olympian in its ranks - this time in computer programming.
New Plymouth Boys' High School student Alan Ansell heads to Italy this month to compete in the 24th International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI).
The 15-year-old is one of four New Zealand students competing in the annual event which features more than 300 of the world's top computer science students from more than 80 countries.
Alan says he got into computer programming about a year ago but was not serious about it until he attended a training camp in Auckland this year as part of the selection process for the New Zealand IOI team.
"It's like writing a recipe. You are given a whole lot of numbers and asked to find the fastest way of sorting them," Alan, who does not actually study IT at school, said.
Contestants in Italy will compete individually and are assessed on their ability to analyse and solve computer programming problems.
A graduate of two Massey University maths papers, Alan is also the country's top Latin scholar and says visiting Italy holds particular interest for him.
"I am looking forward to the tour of Venice and would like to see some of the ancient sites," he said.
NPBHS head of languages Margaret Atkinson, who has been teaching Alan Latin since he was eight, said it has been wonderful watching him mature.
"He never makes the same mistake twice and he's a lovely role model for the others coming through," she said.
Alan likes to get things right, he passed scholarship statistics last year but will resit it in November aiming to be the country's top stats student.
He will also sit scholarship calculus and classics as well as level two Spanish, English, physics and chemistry.
The busy student is also a competent pianist and plays clarinet for the Boys' High/Girls' High concert band and the Taranaki Youth Orchestra.
Alan, who as a 12-year-old competed in the 2009 World Youth Chess Championships in Turkey, is beginning to formulate a plan for his future.
"Artificial intelligence is quite interesting and links in with the computer programming or something with linguistics," he said.
Gill Evans is a Witt journalism student.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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