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City Girl Gets Gold in World Math Olympiad

Published: July 27, 2004 (Issue # 989)



  • Nadezhda Petukhova: world-class.
    Photo: Alexander Belenky / The St. Petersburg Times

St. Petersburg schoolgirl Nadezhda Petukhova, 17, was not just the first girl in the Russian team to compete in this year's International Math Olympiad since 1998, she also won a gold medal.

Petukhova has just returned from the Olympiad, which was held in Athens on July 9 to 18.

She received her gold medal from Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, who told her: "I'm so glad that you're a girl."

The overwhelmingly majority of the contestants - 84 countries entered teams of six - were male. Only four students succeeded in answering all 42 questions correctly.

Petukhova answered most of her questions correctly, and finished in the top 20 rankings for individuals. In the national contest, Russia came third, after China and the United States.

Petukhova also brought a living prize home from Athens, a cat she calls Pit that she found in the city.

Her road to the gold medal was not an easy one. Her schoolteachers didn't understand why she was concentrating on math, even though the school she studied at was associated with the Academy of Sciences and specializes in physics and technology.

Her classmate Sasha Safronova said the school had made life difficult for Petukhova.

"They made her retake all the tests when she returned from All-Russian Olympiad. Petukhova graduated from school with threes in some subjects," she said. "Nadya's victory was no surprise for us. In our class we had seven pupils who won All-Russian Olympiads. We are just sorry that she rarely was at school".

Petukhova is no stranger to mathematics: her parents and elder brother are mathematicians.

"Nobody asked me if I liked it or not," she said. "My parents just submerged me in math."

In some ways her preparation for Athens began when Petukhova was in the fifth grade. She entered district, city, and two national mathematical Olympiads and earned a place in the IMO team.

At the age of 11 she was part of a special class at the city's school No. 239 that coaches children for math competitions. When she started there were three study groups each of them had 30 pupils. In the end only 10 students graduated from it.

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Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


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Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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